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Monday 6 March 2017

‘Darkness’ by Karen Robards

Published by Hodder,
17 November 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-444-79792-3

Unforgiving terrain and Arctic storms form a convincingly hostile backdrop to this dramatic suspense novel – and as if that wasn’t enough menace, there’s a small army of gun-carrying bad guys on the loose as well.

After a brief prologue to sketch some background detail, we are thrown straight into the first storm, off the coast of a small Alaskan island inhabited mostly by birds. Dr Gina Sullivan, a member of a research team studying the avian numbers and behaviour, is on her way back to base in a small boat when a small plane drops out of the sky and deposits a mysterious and extremely hunky stranger in the increasingly ferocious water close by. She has to rescue him, of course, but when he throws her radio in the sea, and despite the literally Arctic conditions tries to stop her lighting a fire once they reach land, she begins to wonder what she has let herself in for.

The drama which plays itself out is reminiscent of old Alistair MacLean thrillers: who does the hero/heroine trust? What is really going on? Who are the good guys, and how will they escape the mounting jeopardy? 

And jeopardy there is, in bucketfuls. Murder, near-lethal weather and pursuit over snow-slicked mountains by well-armed villains are only the half of it. And through it all, on practically no sleep and very little food, our hero and heroine manage to fit in several bouts of mind-blowing sex, as befits a novel dubbed romantic suspense.

Karen Robards knows how to construct a hero. Cal Callahan (the hunky stranger) is large, muscular and devastatingly handsome, shrugs off a bullet wound as if it was a broken fingernail, and possesses survival skills we ordinary mortals can only read about. Gina Sullivan is stunningly beautiful, much hardier than she thinks she is (having been dismissed by her action-man father as ‘domestically inclined’), and feisty to the point of overcoming crippling phobias which emanate from episodes in her past that would have destroyed most people.

The narrative is slow to get going; it takes Gina almost half the book to decide to trust Cal. But the second half is pacy, hard-hitting and full of incident, and the pair’s climactic escape from the island made me hold my breath. It’s easy to forgive an occasional tendency to tell-not-show, and a lapse or two into twee language when the romance is centre stage. This is romantic suspense at its most spectacular.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Karen Robards is the internationally bestselling author of over forty romantic suspense novels, which have regularly appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others. She is the mother of three boys and lives with her family in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Twitter @TheKarenRobards.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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