Dell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-440-24454-7
Fantasy Romantic Suspense, 2008
The Darkest Touch is part of the author’s Demon Hunter series. It can get quite heavy in background information, but this one can also stand alone quite well as the author takes the time to fill new readers in on details.
We are back to the epic showdown between the demon hunters called the Realm of Light and the demons called the Sons of Darkness. The showdown this time around involves four players from the Realm of Light pitted against the bumbling Sons of Darkness.
Angelique Deveraux, an archeologist, has in her keeping a black diamond. It’s a long story, so let me just say for the sake of simplicity that she was once captured by the Sons of Darkness to become part of a Very Bad Occult Ceremony. It didn’t work, and Angie reasoned that it wasn’t her that these bad guys needed – it had to be her twin sister Isabelle. When our hero Ryder shows up with this entourage to save her, Angie was told to run. She did… only to decide to turn back to see whether Ryder had survived.
Seriously, that was what she did. Her reason was that she knew this was what Ryder would do if he were in her shoes. She conveniently forgot that Ryder could kick demon butt while she… oh, please. Perhaps when the demons rend her to pieces and use her head as a soccer ball for the annual Special Olympics in Hell, she could say that she might have died completely in vain, but she was honorable, so good for her. Well, fortunately for her and unfortunately for the human gene pool, she didn’t die. She found that everyone, including Ryder, had somehow vanished, but look, there was a black diamond lying around for her to pick up.
Angie decided there and then that while she had no idea where Isabelle was and she had no idea how to protect herself from demons, she would hide this diamond from both the Sons of Darkness and the Realm of Light because it is her responsibility to keep Isabelle safe from harm.
Damn it, why couldn’t Angie die?
So, when we head over to chapter one and onward, Ryder nabs Angie to this luxurious if isolated mansion, right after rescuing her from a demon attack, to convince her to surrender the diamond to the Realm of Light. The diamond, if you can’t tell by now, is a Very Important Thing that must not fall into the wrong hands. After much protest, Angie suddenly decides that she will hand the diamond to Ryder if he will help her locate Isabelle. Ryder sensibly points out that having the two sisters in the same place will actually make it easy for the Sons of Darkness to get their hands on them, but does Angie care? Damn it, why couldn’t she have died in the prologue?
Isabelle’s story is much more pleasant, being that she’s the “bad” twin sister and therefore has all the brainpower where Angie has none. She will fall in love with Dalton Gabriel, a Realm of Light agent who approaches her under the pretense of being a wealthy man who will sponsor her search for fabled Atlantis. These two have a much better story here because both are well matched, intellectually and emotionally. Ryder’s story with Angie is not as compelling. I get instead Ryder constantly telling me that Angie will make a great partner for him, Angie is smart and capable, et cetera, until I want to scream. Angie will make a great Hunter? Look at her go eek-eek-eek when she has to shoot with a gun! Maybe Ryder is thinking of a “partner” in the sense that Angie will make a great coffee-maker in the Realm of Light HQ? Okay, Angie makes a few major really dumb blunders in this story, but I can swallow a few funny pills and perhaps overlook her nonsense considering how out of her depths she is in this story. However, it is hard to forget how stupid Angie can be when Ryder keeps telling me how smart and capable Angie is. It is as if Ms Burton is daring me to correct Ryder.
So we have two concurrent story lines here that will eventually come together for the climactic later third or so of the tale, one featuring a very annoyingly overemotional heroine who doesn’t think before she pulls off her various nonsense, and one featuring her likable twin sister who seems to have inherited all the sanity in the family. I really like one story line (guess which one) while the other story line drives me crazy with the heroine’s antics.
Things would have turned out so well if Angie had died in the prologue, I tell you.