Reese Holt doesn’t have time for romance. As the owner and operator of a security service respected worldwide, he has enough on his plate. And, the hard reality is that his work is dangerous and he knows there aren’t many who can accept that kind of darkness in a partner without becoming consumed by it. But he never expects Alex Throne to drop into his arms.
Kidnapped and out of options, Alex hurls himself from a helicopter and into the ocean below. He expects to die, but hopes in doing so that he will save his sister, Toni. Instead he finds himself rescued by Reese. Capable and professional, Reese intends to keep the vulnerable, yet tough Alex at arms length. But when Alex’s father hires Reese’s service to protect Alex, they are thrown together and their attraction is far from subtle. As Alex and Reese grow closer, Reese must keep them safe while Alex is forced to confront the harsh truth of Reese’s work.
The Dark Side is the first in a new series by Laura Baumbach. This author has been rather hit and miss for me, but I find she’s always worth giving a chance and The Dark Side didn’t disappoint. It’s packed with plenty of action and enough characterization to drive the plot forward without ever feeling laggy. Alex and Reese are both fairly well developed and, while we don’t get a ton of depth, both are portrayed as realistic and believable and they definitely work as a couple. There is a nice secondary cast that both provides insight into Reese as a character and gives a nice balance of humor and action without consuming the entire novel. There are a couple moments during the action when the secondary cast clutters up things a bit, but this doesn’t last long and doesn’t happen so frequently as to become annoying.
The biggest problem with The Dark Side is the idea of insta-love. Alex and Reese pretty much fall for one another almost immediately and, as a result, while their relationship is somewhat enjoyable it also comes off as rather ridiculous. They’re declaring their love for one another within a matter of days, so there isn’t much by way of believability. Had this courtship taken place over a more reasonable amount of time, their romance could have been epic. Still, despite how much I hate the insta-love trope, Alex and Reese were charming enough to save this relationship from being utterly laughable. The other major issue with The Dark Side is the lack of a decent antagonist. We know who the bad guy is right away and while their actions are certainly despicable, they don’t always seem particularly believable. Again, had this whole aspect been teased out a bit, I think it would have had more impact.
Overall The Dark Side was a flawed, but enjoyable book. The characters are fairly strong and the pacing is excellent. The action adds an extra layer of fun and definitely rounds out the overall plot. A case of insta-love hampers the romance, but doesn’t completely drag the book under. I think anyone who enjoys action novels with a decent layer of suspense will appreciate The Dark Side.