Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Threat of Darkness, by Valerie Hansen

Overview (from Goodreads): As a nurse and special advocate for children, Samantha Rochard is used to danger in small town Serenity, Arkansas. But when she suspects a little boy is in jeopardy from his powerful father, the danger turns on her. Her only source of protection? The handsome police officer who broke her heart five years ago. Yet after John Waltham comes to her rescue in more ways than one, Samantha must trust in him-and the Lord-to watch over her...and save one sweet little boy.

Review: This novel is about much more than what the overview says. Yes, there is an abused child, and, yes, Samantha does try to rescue him with the help of her ex-boyfriend, John. But her life is also in danger right from the beginning, a direct outcome from a very scary situation that she goes through as the book opens. And it is a great way to begin a novel: it got my attention, had me interested, and got me wondering what would happen next. 

Samantha is a character who has gone through a lot and who has an inner battle with God about what happened in her past with the man she loved, and a struggle with herself about the way she is feeling toward this man again. So she is someone anyone can relate to. John, on the other hand, is almost useless. As a cop he is always either late or getting knocked out. Cops in general here are very mediocre; they apparently don't know the first thing about doing a simple search, securing evidence or interrogating witnesses or suspects. And that is very irritating. 

The plot is actually pretty interesting, and I love the fact that, since it is written in third person, we get to see how both Samantha and John feel and think. It has mystery, suspense, romance and action, you know, all the goodies. However, the dialogues, as well as some actions, sometimes lacked continuity. For example, the characters would speak and I would read again because from one person to the next you get the impression that part of the dialogue is missing, like one person is answering something that was never asked, or another asked something that was never answered. Another example: Samantha and John would search inside the house because an intruder had been there, but they couldn't find anything, so they would say, "Let's search again, in case we missed anything the first time around." But in the next paragraph, they would go outside to search around the house, and then change their minds, get in the car and go someplace else. It's as if the author forgot her original intention.

The ending was too good to be true, and the too good part was so rushed that it would have been better to give it a fair treatment in an epilogue. 

One last note, during the whole novel, Samantha's problem and threat is front and center, not the abused child. However, towards the end, it's the child's case that gets all the action, and Samantha's case is resolved but very uneventfully. 

So the action and suspense is good enough to interest you in the first place. The police mediocrity is bad enough that you may feel deflated. The problems with the dialogue and continuity is disappointing. But you will want to stick around for the resolution when the case of the abused child takes center stage and the action will hold your attention. 

3 out of 5 stars 

*I received a copy of this book from Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.


  1. You had me laughing with the examples. Oh, Lord, help us. It's awfully hard to write a good book.

  2. I agree. It's incredibly hard to write anything, let alone a book. But a little editing can do wonders with some mistakes, as well as a little research.
    Thanks for stopping by! :)