Daniel Greene is an artist trying to prepare for a showing at a gallery, but something is wrong. He’s tired all the time, can’t seem to get out of bed, cries a lot, and his body aches. Daniel feels the pressure of the upcoming show, but he can’t get excited about it. He’s sunken into a deep depression. Finally realizing something is wrong, Daniel calls his doctor, who recommends him to a psychologist. One day, while soaking up some sunshine (naked of course), Daniel has an encounter with a delivery man who has a surprising effect on him.
Oliver Campbell never expected to see a naked man at the address of his latest delivery. He feels the same pull as Daniel, but he has a son at home he has to focus on.
The Darkest Hour was not an easy read. Daniel suffers from a severe depression. We’re not talking about just feeling sad, either. He feels helpless and hopeless, and at one point he thinks about ending it all. Wayne Mansfield pulls no punches. He doesn’t skim over Daniel’s feelings. I suffer from depression as well. I understand those feelings, and I was with him all the way, from that first phone call to his doctor, to the prescriptions for antidepressants, and meetings with a psychologist. It’s a long and difficult journey, and I felt that journey was well documented. This is a 64 page novella, so there isn’t a lot of time to delve into the everyday battle, but that’s ok. Even though time is short, it didn’t feel as if I was on a train with no breaks. Daniel grabbed my heart and didn’t let go until the end, and I felt such a connection with his character.
Oliver captured me as well. Once again, Mansfield was able to describe every situation perfectly, and I could actually see the look on Oliver’s face when he realized he was staring at Daniel sunbathing in the nude. It was a funny moment, and it provided a bit of levity to the heavy storyline of Daniel’s depression. Oliver is attracted to Daniel right away, and their relationship progresses quickly. However, Oliver has a son at home to think about. He and his partner, Jason, had decided they wanted to have a child, and they had their lesbian friend be a surrogate for them. Unfortunately, Jason was killed by a drunk driver, and now Oliver is raising little Cameron on his own. Once again, this was a very real situation. It’s not pretty, but sometimes terrible things happen to good people, and they have to show their resilience and tenacity. Oliver does just that.
There is a bump or two, but that is to be expected in a story like this. What these men are going through is difficult, and they have to decide if they’re willing to work together to have their happily ever after. Along with the bumps, there were good things as well. For instance, their chemistry is off the charts. There is a sexual spark right away, and they make passionate love on their first date. It doesn’t feel cheap, though. It was just two men who fulfill a need within each other. I believe in love at first sight, and their heated (and sudden) passion made perfect sense to me.
The Darkest Hour ties itself up neatly and in a satisfying fashion. Depression is a constant struggle, and there’s no magical cure. Raising a rambunctious child isn’t easy either. I just got the feeling that, together, Daniel and Oliver will be able to face anything that confronts them. This was a great little novella. I highly recommend it.