Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours, 42 minutes
Felix has taken a job assisting a man who is blind and recovering from severe injuries. Felix has had a rough life and doesn’t really have a place to go, so the job is a great opportunity for him. Too bad his patient, Lane, is surly and difficult and kind of a jerk. Fortunately for Felix, he can give as good as he gets and refuses to let Lane get the better of him. The fact that Lane is hot and horny doesn’t hurt anything either, and while the guys still are driving each other crazy, at least there is the side benefit that they are great together in bed.
Felix believes Lane’s story that the injuries and blindness are a result of a car accident, but it isn’t long before it is clear much more is going on. After Felix is threatened as a way to get to Lane, he learns that Lane’s past is not fully behind him. Soon Felix and Lane are on the run, being chased by gunmen and barely escaping alive. Now the two men are determined to solve the case and stop the bad guy who wants to see them silenced before it is too late. And while they are at it, they just might fall for each other too.
Hidden in Darkness is an exciting thriller that has a lot of interesting twists and turns and really kicks up the suspense. The story starts out with a super intense prologue where we see Lane being held captive after having been beaten and battered, and we follow along as he somehow manages to escape. This beginning sets the stage so nicely, as we then jump to the day to day as Felix arrives to become Lane’s caretaker. So we know as readers there is something more going on, but not quite what, and Felix has no idea that the situation is anything more than it seems. This really builds the suspense nicely as the danger starts to trickle in and we really get going with the thriller portion of the story. Winters nicely balances the romance and the action and manages to keep their relationship growing even as Felix and Lane are in the midst of running for their lives and trying to bring down the bad guy.
So I’ll admit, this story started out rough for me, to the point where I had a hard time early on. That is because these guys are really quite nasty to one another, or at least that’s how it felt to me. Lane is really struggling in the aftermath of the attack and the resulting blindness and he is surly and rude and often nasty. Which I totally get, but it doesn’t make for a very likable character. And while Felix starts off doing his best, he pretty quickly begins responding to Lane with equal unpleasantness. Now I love some snarky banter, love it. But to me, that isn’t what this felt like because there just wasn’t the underlying affection yet between them to make that work. Instead, their interactions often felt mean spirited and nasty. The guys throw things at each other. They insult one another. And Felix is just all around rude. There is a scene where he refuses to use his cane and so he is walking too close to some young girls and freaking them out. He then takes his cane and accidentally hits them with it. Even when Felix points this out, Lane still doesn’t apologize to them or seem to care. I’ll also note that Felix’s habit of snooping and totally invading people’s privacy was also hard to handle. So it was a lot and I was having a hard time with the book early on.
I decided to stick it out for several reasons. First off, after reading the prologue, I knew Winters could do suspense, and I was really excited to see where the story went. I also had heard many great things about the book and wanted to give it a chance. And finally, I figured there would be a tipping point where the relationship between the guys grew deep enough that the meanness became friendly banter, which again, I love. And I really glad I stuck with it because that is just what happened. Soon I could feel the growing friendship between the guys, and ultimately the affection and love, and so what at first felt nasty soon became fun. I could see that even as they insulted one another, it helped to diffuse tense situations and kept things playful and light when needed. Felix is snarky and entertaining and I just loved his mix of tough and vulnerable, with some irreverence woven in. I loved watching him get himself in and out of trouble, and Lane’s exasperation laced with fondness. These guys just felt right together, a bit of an odd couple, but also men who both had experienced a lot of pain and found comfort and support in one another.
I listened to this in audio and narrator Joel Leslie does a fabulous job with this book. This is a story with sharp, snappy dialog and a lot of banter and Leslie captures that so well. It really is a narration that is all about tone and timing and capturing those subtle bits of humor and Leslie gets it just right. Felix, in particular, has a self deprecating side and there are scenes that made me laugh out loud as he gets himself into trouble. I also was impressed with how distinct Felix and Lane’s voices are and how well they fit their characters. There is a nice sized cast of side characters as well, and Leslie makes them all interesting and unique. So as great as this story was, I really feel like Leslie narration just took things up a notch. Everything was a perfect fit for the book and really highlighted some of the best parts of the story.
Hidden in Darkness is the first book in the In Darkness series and the second book is out in both ebook and audio. I definitely can’t wait to pick it up!