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'Til Darkness Falls by Pearl Love
The first thing that intrigued me about this book, right off, was the beautiful cover‐ I think that cover could draw anyone in. Then I read the synopsis and realized that I’d heard of this book before, when it was published under, I believe, Dreamspinner Press. And I just… Honestly, the plot sounded convoluted and, since I’d read the synopsis on the first version, I… knew some things about the book and the possible ending (all presented right there, in the book blurb) and I was very, very wary of reading it.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Every time I came across the title or the cover again, I grew more and more intrigued, until I finally gave in and requested it, and read it.
So, this is… I think the second edition of the book, now published under DSP Publications, which is an imprint that does, it feels, books that feature gay or bi or whatever characters, but don’t necessarily feature as much romance. ‘’Til Darkness Falls’ is definitely romantic, though. It just has a lot of other elements twined in, which is one of the other things that made the book so attention grabbing for me. The book starts in ancient Egypt, with a young prince and his slave, who is really his lover. The two boys are deeply in love, but the prince must get married. The future bride, Hebeny, is extremely jealous, and uses an Egyptian god to cast a curse on the couple‐ they will meet, again and again, throughout their future lives, and fall in love. And Hebeny will always be there, following them from life to life, to ensure that the lovers betray each other.
This is all presented right within the first several pages, so right up front, you know, as a reader, nearly every single thing that’s going to happen, plot wise. And the plot is intense and interesting and creative, but I think… I think putting it so upfront like this is kind of a fatal flaw. I don’t mean to say that knowing what’s going to befall our main characters, Alrick and Brian, takes any tension or excitement away from the book. It doesn’t. But it gives the book a kind of tension that isn’t so much excitement as much as terrible and ominous. This was a stressful read for me. Knowing that Brian is a cop and Alrick is a hitman (and no, those aren’t spoilers) and that they will be at odds, even as they’re falling in love, just gives this huge sense of doom to the book.
Actually, if the knowledge of the characters’ past lives takes the tension out of anything, it takes it out of the romance. Brian and Alrick meet and fall in love almost immediately. Which is exactly what you know is going to happen. So it’s predictable and very sweet but also very fast, and only really believable in that you know they’re soul mates‐ this seems to be the only real reason the two of them get along so well, so quickly.
And by the end of the book‐ or maybe even closer to the middle‐ just knowing that Brian was going to find out about Alrick and their happiness was going to fall apart was incredibly stressful. The tension and feeling of doom just grew and grew and it wasn’t pleasant in any way. It did not make for fun reading. I actually stopped and read two other books, and then had to make myself go back to ‘’Til Darkness Falls.’
Also, in the very first pages of the book, Hebeny is told how to break the curse, so the ending of the book was not any kind of surprise, either.
So, after all of that, it’s probably easy to think I didn’t like this. But that’s the thing‐ I did. It’s well‐written. It’s sweet and the romance is kind of unbelievable, but there are a lot of moments where it’s also very real and touching and it feels honest. And the character development is excellent. Brian and Alrick are very real people. There was also none of the confusing plot lines I was expecting‐ at times, the story does dip back into Egypt, but only briefly, and it’s always very clean. I just really enjoyed reading the book, right up until the middle, when it became too much.
So a lot of the time, I didn’t like this book. But overall… I did. I think, maybe, this is the first book I’ve ever read where I think a second read would greatly benefit the book itself. Knowing exactly how bad it’s going to be and re‐reading might relieve some of the tension and allow a reader to just focus on plot and characters. I mean, I really do think it’s a very fascinating concept, a great creative idea. And I did really like the characters and writing. I just wish that so much information hadn’t been given to me right up front. I don’t know that I’d ever want to read a book with this type of upfront, in your face plot again if I could help it. The stress and the knowledge of what was definitely going to happen was too awful. But I would definitely read this author again.
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