Book Review: Born to Darkness (Fighting Destiny Book 1) by Suzanne Brockmann
New York Times bestselling author of the "Troubleshooters" series, Suzanne Brockmann, makes her paranormal fiction debut with "Born to Darkness", Book 1 of the new "Fighting Destiny" series. Similar to her previous books, the focus of "Born to Darkness" is romantic suspense, but with a touch of the supernatural for an interesting twist.
Michelle 'Mac' MacKenzie belongs to an elite task force of "Greater Than's" run by the Obermeyer Institute's (OI) Dr. Joseph Bach. Most humans integrate only 10% of their brain for use at any given point in time. However, she and the other "Greater-Than's" on Bach's team have brain integration percentages of 50% or higher, giving them extraordinary powers such as telekinesis, increased empathy, self healing, and mind speech.
Their current mission is to subdue The Organization and its mass distribution of the highly addictive and expensive drug code-named Destiny. The drug's appeal lies in its ability to give the user eternal youth and on occasion, certain special powers. What the dealers forget to tell their users is that a single dose causes instant addiction, and every user of Destiny eventually loses control and goes insane, a state called "Jokering". Once they reach that state, even against a team of "Greater-Than's", it's a tough fight to determine who will survive and who will die.
Shane Laughlin is a blacklisted former Navy SEAL desperate for work in the midst of yet another Great Depression in America. He lucks out when the Obermeyer Institute calls him in as a Potential, offering him a job as a test subject. As his last hoo-rah, he steps into a bar one night, hoping to hustle some money. He is blindsided by the mesmerizing Mac Mackenzie, and the two have a sizzling one-night stand before waking up to discover that Mac works at the OI (which happens to have a strict celibacy policy) and Shane will soon be a test subject there too.
Throughout the book, Shane pursues Mac relentlessly as she angsts over the impossibility of their relationship. After all, he couldn't possibly truly love her. It MUST be her "Greater-Than" empathic powers forcing him to want her. Joseph Bach also finds himself entangled in the plight of the lovely Anna Taylor who is desperate to save her kidnapped talented younger sister, Nika Taylor, from the clutches of The Organization. Naturally, the romantic confusion isn't complete without a third male-male relationship between the steady, muscular, and incredibly handsome Stephen Diaz, another member of Bach's team of "Greater-Than's", and the geeky human ("Lesser-Than") medical support staff, Elliott Zerkowski.
Together, it is a race against time for Joseph Bach's team with the aid of Shane Laughlin's Navy SEAL training to save Nika Taylor and many other young girls from being terrorized and bled dry by The Organization in the name of creating more Destiny.
Disclaimer: I was highly reluctant to review this book because I tend not to enjoy romance novels to begin with. This means of course, that my opinion of the book may be somewhat biased. You have been warned.
I picked this book up largely as "fluff" reading. Sometimes I get tired of reading complex epic stories with deep philosophical meaning and want to read something that I can skim through quickly, laugh a little, and not think too hard about. "Born to Darkness" by Suzanne Brockmann definitely fulfilled that purpose. I can't really give it much more credit than that.
The story is definitely fast-paced with great suspenseful moments. I wouldn't expect any less from an author well-known for her romantic suspense stories. It is easy to pick it up at any point and not really put it down again, leaving me little opportunity for boredom. Kudos to Miss Brockmann for her ability to excite and grab hold of her readers. The constant switching of 3rd person character viewpoints (7 unique characters) was mildly confusing, although I understand the need to give readers a wider picture of simultaneous events.
My main problem is with her characters, who are so predictably and conveniently paired together, it leaves very little room for speculation or imagination. Although Mac seems to pull away from Shane the entire time, you know from the moment they meet that they'll be together forever. Her reasons for keeping him away seem laughable to me. Why is she willing to have long-term relationships with complete idiots, but won't get anywhere near Shane, even when it comes with incredible benefits?
Bach's relationship with Anna is slightly more interesting, largely because he has a mysterious past that I see glimpses of but know very little about. Then Suzanne Brockmann ruins it with a highly questionable ending with possible inappropriate romantic tension. To say more would give too much away.
Don't even get me started on Stephen Diaz and his sex dream projections. Seriously? Elliott jumps on board and is suddenly passionately and deeply in love with a guy who's been fantasizing about him for years? It just isn't believable for me. Maybe I'm just a skeptic.
The plot is somewhat intriguing because the premise is good. Suzanne Brockmann maintains the suspense throughout the novel, especially by switching to Nika's viewpoint so the reader is able to feel the absolute horror of her situation. I found myself occasionally on the edge of my seat, yelling at Dr. Bach's team to stop mooning after each other and hurry and save the poor girl.
However, certain plot points are inconsistent. For instance, there is such a huge emphasis on celibacy for the "Greater-Than's" in the beginning, but suddenly nobody cares because everyone in the team happens to fall in love at the same time. Why even add the celibacy requirement to the plot?
- Plot: 3/5
- Characters: 2/5
- Pacing: 4/5
- Writing style: 4/5
- Overall: 3.25/5
Would I recommend this book to a friend? Maybe - as quick fluff reading only.
What age group would I recommend this book for? Adult (Graphic descriptions of sex and violence).
Overall, "Born to Darkness" by Suzanne Brockmann is not a masterpiece, but for me personally, it fulfills its purpose as mindless fluff. I did find it entertaining, although I won't be running to the store when the next book in the "Fighting Destiny" series is released. If you enjoy romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal, this may be the book for you. Unfortunately, I think I'll stick with my usual urban fantasy fare next time (i.e. Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series or Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series).