On the Run and in the Snow in “Darkness”

25246755Darkness by Karen Robards
Gallery Book: March 29, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Free From Publisher

The view was nice, but the food was bad

I’ve been on a bit of a romantic suspense kick as of late (see Shattered Duty), so Robards’ Darkness really appealed. Stranded on a desolate island in Alaska, plus a mysterious hot dude, what wouldn’t work? For me, something was missing. The setting and thriller elements were off the charts, but the romance was a little lackluster.

Dr. Gina Sullivan is an ornithologist studying the wildlife on Attu island and when a plane crashes pretty much right next to her, Gina finds herself battling memories of her own tragic plane crash and rescuing the lone survivor. Cal is the only survivor of the plane crash and when he refuses to give Gina information about himself or the crash and then turns his suspicion on her, Gina is ready to leave the guy the freeze. Then that pesky conscience intervenes. And before any real trust can build, Gina and Cal are on the run from some sketchy military type folks who are intent on killing any person that’s on the island. Let the games begin.

It’s hard to rate Darkness because it can be read as two different things. On one hand, Darkness is a thriller. Gina and Cal are running for their lives quite literally. Compounding matters is the fact that they are on an island, so there are only so many places that they can go to escape their pursuers (hence the plane to steal a plane). On the other hand, Darkness is also a romance. From the start Gina and Cal are attracted and suspicious of one another; at the end of the day, the attraction tips over the suspicion and the inevitable happens. From my perspective, I felt that the novel skewed to heavily towards the thriller spectrum when I would have preferred a more developed romance. When you’re running for your life with some dude you just met, there’s clearly not a heck of a lot of time for the whole courtship thing.

The romance is further complicated by the fact that Gina is still recovering from the death of her husband, father and sister in the plane crash that she survived. Obviously this is a big deal in any future relationship Gina chooses to pursue, but how the past was dealt with by Cal and Gina just made the resolution of the past a token discussion so that their romance could move on. Like I said, I think there could have been a little more depth here. And lastly, I just have to ask: are snow pants ever sexy? Cal spends a fair bit of time admiring Gina in her outwear and I just have to wonder. Really? Snow gear has to be the most unflattering outfit out there. I’m not buying it.

What I thought was done really well was the actually setting of Attu Island. I’m a big fan of fiction exploring more exotic locales, so that was part of the attraction for me in picking up Darkness. The author does a great job of delving into the scenery of Attu as well as the history of the island. This was a really cool setting to place the book and will appeal to armchair travel fans. I was especially intrigued by the history of the island as a place of battle during the Second World War. For more information about the Battle of Attu, check out History.com.

For those that like more suspense in their romantic suspense, Darkness is a fun read. It’s formulaic but it adds some interest by showcasing a remote and unknown location in Alaska. In the romance department, I personally found Darkness underwhelming. Snow pants aren’t sexy and no one’s convincing me otherwise.

Similar Reads

For another “on the run” romance, try Linda Howard’s Ice. This short novel is a nice suspense read, and it involves snow. If you liked the snowy setting of Darkness you’ll appreciate Ice.


For fans of the exotic locale, I recommend checking out Candice Proctor’s Beyond Sunrise. The locale is much warmer and does have a historical bent, but I think fans of the description of Attu will appreciate the level of detail in Proctor’s work. See my full review for more info about the book.

Beyond Sunrise

Lastly, I’m changing gears a bit with my recommendations and suggesting that fans of Darkness pick up a nonfiction title. Susan Casey’s The Devil’s Teeth will be of interest to anyone that enjoyed the history and detail of Attu Island. Casey focuses on the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands in her book; however, there is much detail to be had about the Islands themselves. See my full review to learn more.

The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks


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