Born to Darkness
Random House/Mar. 20, 2012/$26.00 HC, $12.99 digital
In the not-too-distant future, the Obermeyer Institute (OI) has made a revolutionary discovery: With special training, humans can tap into the brain’s hidden powers (telepathy, telekinetic powers, super strength, and more). The training is strenuous, though, and it works only for those with natural potential. Tough girl Mac has that potential, and she’s a devoted member of the OI. But there’s one rule she can’t help but bend. Her boss thinks celibacy is key to their work. Mac’s learned differently—an active sexual life enhances her powers. And when she meets Shane, a sexy former Navy SEAL, the sparks are instant. But after the two spend an amazing night together, Mac finds out that Shane’s a new recruit at the institute. How can she mix business and pleasure?
Suzanne Brockmann’s Born to Darkness is, on its surface, a story about a rather dangerous near future world where people with special mental abilities use their powers to make a difference. A phrase about power and responsibility sounds rather appropriate here. Except as much as I love that kind of story and that kind of concept, that isn’t all that’s going on here.
A wider view tells a reader that the kind of danger found in this world involves constant and regular challenges to privacy. In fact:
Medical scan technology was improving in leaps and bounds, and a jot scan, could be done without a subject’s knowledge or permission, since your clothes stayed on and you didn’t have to stay still. It was illegal in public places, hence the nickname ‘probe.’ It violated personal privacy laws up the yin-yang. There was currently a battle going on in congress where lobbyists were attempting to redefine all places of employment as “private.” But the truth was that jobs were so scarce, that even if the bill didn’t pass, no one in their right mind was going to raise a stink of their employer probed them, even on a daily basis.
And there are many other examples of how easy it is to lose anything and everything that can be remotely related to privacy in this book. Like this one:
“…Can I assume that I’ve been cleared? Since I’ve already been screened?”
“Yes,” he said.
“That makes it sound so much better than calling it, say, mental invasion or privacy annihilation.”
Yet that’s not really the point of the story either. Because what is more precious than trust, freely given, in a world where privacy is such a precious commodity? Answer? Nothing.
That, I think is the message at the core of Born to Darkness. It’s not the importance of privacy. It’s the value of trust. Who to trust. Who can you trust. And why. Because as two of the three couples in this book find their way to love, they realize they’re letting the right one in. Not because of the additional power that it might bring to the enhanced member of the partnership, but because of something more. As one of the characters (after a whirlwind courtship) says about the man he loves:
“I know it seems fast, but…To answer your question, yes. I accept the fact that he genuinely loves me. The telepathic connection was key , though, in convincing me. Spending time in his head is…it’s like an hour together is the same as if we spent three weeks just talking. It’s crazy how comfortable and right it feels. And El’s so open and… Trusting. He’s so ready to be loved.”
Ready to be loved. That phrase is the key. Being open. Trusting. Prepared to break open your shields and let the right person into your life. Through the difficult and fast paced plot, it’s hard for the characters to get a breath. But what these two men find is that they can rely on each other in a way that they hadn’t expected to once they learn that the potential for love is within their grasp.
Couple number two has a harder road to love. The heroine of the story has powers (and a backstory) that makes it hard for her to believe that someone could genuinely love her…without the benefit of her pheromone-inducing power. Our hero must prove himself, again and again, despite his own doubts. But when thoughts like the following run through the heroine’s head, you, as the reader, know she’s ready to be loved:
“Can I tell you what it feels like from this end? Because to me, it feels fucking real. It feels like…Connection, to the nth. It feels like joy, like truth. It feels like I belong somewhere again."
She knew exactly what he meant by that, because she felt the exact same thing.
Connection, to the nth. As if she finally belonged. Almost as if it were real.
And when push comes to shove, when his back is up against the wall, the hero tells the heroine the following, confirming that it is all about trust.
“I trust you,” he interrupted her. “if you say you love me, I know that you’re telling me the truth. I mean because there’s really no way to know. Neither of us are telepathic, at least not the way we’d need to be to verify such a thing. So in the same way that you have to trust that my love for you is real, I have to trust you. It’s a two-way street, Michelle.”
And it is. Love is a two-way street. You need to be ready and you need to be open. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it isn’t always fun and games.
“It was funny, the way life worked out—or didn’t work out as the case might be.”
Hopefully the book’s third couple will find their resolution in book two. That, I am quite ready to see happen.
Stacey aka @nystacey