I’ve not read any of this series and just dived in at book 15(!) because I liked the sound of it. An island, a pilot, a lighthouse keeper, and cozy evenings. Yum. Plus the title sounded sexy, though I quickly worked out by ‘dark’ they mean despair. Not night time. Hmm.
So first thing I find is it’s more of a family saga than a straight up romance. Slim and Erin, our H&H, are getting together after he flies back to the island for the 12 days of Christmas. He met Erin several months ago, and they hit it off, but he’s been working in Florida so their communications have been limited to phone and video calls. Now he’s back, and Erin invites him to stay with her. It’s pretty forward of her as she’s somewhat reserved, but she really likes this guy and wants to let her barriers down. She’s 38, so it’s not her first rodeo, but she’s not gotten on the horse for a while because of the dark thing (she’s been in grief over her twin brother who died in the 9/11 attack) so it’s all a bit more tentative than desirous.
So they are getting close and heavy, but then a whole load of other story with different characters happens and this is where I got more than a little confused. The other characters must’ve featured in previous books which I know nothing about. And it wasn’t just one couple, I counted fifteen couples before I stopped counting. Plus these people had siblings, kids, in-laws, dogs, staff and other named associates. Having a cast of a thousand to pay homage to made me feel a little lost.
As much of the setting was parties (there isn’t much else to do on the island in the winter) all these people had lines and set ups to get their face in. I couldn’t retain that number of people in my head without knowing who was and wasn’t important.
Things I learned at the parties that are not about our H&H: Many of the characters are part of a big family called the McCarthy’s. (Though not our protagonists.) Someone saved someone else’s kids. Someone is raising someone else’s kid. Someone’s dad went to prison. Someone’s helping build someone else’s house.
Some of it made me want to tear my hair out. There was a whole chapter dedicated to a couple getting engaged (not our H&H). We had the works, the guy planning it, the night out, the carefully designed ring, the nervous drive home, the set up with romantic lighting in the living room – this is going to sound bad, but I really wanted something terrible to happen. They are secondary characters and it would’ve added loads to the plot to have them run off the road or a house fire destroy the set up. I feel bad for saying it but I was bored by them and wanted them a bit destroyed. If I had any emotional investment in them I might’ve been happy to read a WHOLE CHAPTER on an engagement, but I only really cared about Slim and Erin. And even that was slow in the coming.
I actually stopped reading most of the side stories which was easy to do as whole chapters can be skipped without losing anything of the H&H story.
On that – there were some lovely chapters with the two of them together in the lighthouse, just cozied up and getting intimate. Even just their talks were cool – favorite foods, favorite punctuation – it was cute pillow talk taking them closer to falling in love and I really liked this.
The side stuff wasn’t all bad. I read one chapter near the end cos Slim was in it – it was a funny scene with the cast of a thousand where the husbands stole their skinny-dipping wives’ clothes then got scared and took them back. It properly made me laugh.
Overall I liked Slim and Erin’s story but there was simply too much going on in the backstory to navigate it without having read the previous books. I can’t recommend this as standalone.
If you’re into big family sagas with a bit of drama but happy happy stuff (there were soooo many pregnancies, cute kids, engagements, weddings) then you might want to pick up book one. It’s quality writing and probably makes a ton of sense if you start at the beginning. But starting near the end just misses too much and all the ‘oh it’s them!’ was wasted on me.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Desire After Dark
by Marie Force
Release Date: May 23, 2016