BORN TO DARKNESS – Suzanne Brockman
Fighting Destiny Series
, Book 1
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-52127-9
March 2012
Paranormal Romantic Suspense

Boston , Massachusetts – Twenty Years in the Future

Shane Laughlin is down to his last dollars when he is contacted by the Obermeyer Institute.  Dishonorably discharged from the SEALs and blacklisted from any job, he is interested when contacted for a testing program of what they call Potentials .  Being a human test subject doesn't sound so bad when it includes food and a place to live.  But living in a locked-in facility suddenly makes him think of getting laid before starting a new chapter in his life.  A rundown bar is a good place to fleece someone playing pool and get enough money to go somewhere else and find a businesswoman with an expense account and a nice room in a hotel.  But when a woman walks into the bar and sits by herself, he can't stop himself from sitting next to her.  Soon she takes him  back to a room, and sex with her is unlike anything he's experienced, immediate and mind-blowing, and he knows she is about to become someone important in his life.  For some reason he doesn't dare lose her from his life and let her walk away from him the next morning.

Mac Mackenzie works for the Obermeyer Institute, and she and all her co-workers work to enhance their mental talents; studying and training and practicing.  Every person's skills are different from the others:  some can move items, throw electrical power, make mental connections with other people.  Mac can change her looks and age, and blast sexual energy at men and make them fall instantly in love with long as she is in the room.  But recently they spend a lot of time helping the police with people taking the drug Destiny.  You never die, get sick, and always look twenty, who wouldn't want that?  Except you've sold off everything you have for the drug, and eventually the drug causes you to Joker or go insane, usually threatening and killing your own family.  After a particularly hard job, Mac decides to go to a bar and have a drink; her current boyfriend has just left the apartment she kept for him, and when she meets Shane, a good round of sex is sure to expedite the healing of the broken ankle she got on that afternoon's hostage situation.  Unknown to other members of her team, sex always speeds up healing in her body.

Elliott Zerkowski and Stephen Diaz have worked together for years, but supposedly celibacy is recommended for enhancing abilities…until they touch and their immediate connection can no longer be denied by either of them.  Years of denied attraction between them join together in a raw explosion of love and sex that awes each of them with its power.

Anna Taylor's sister Nika was kidnapped on her way home from school, and it's the properties in her adolescent blood that are needed to make the drug Destiny.  The Obermeyer Institute finds out what happened, and it is soon their main project to find out where she is being held and saving her.  Dr. Bach is the head of their team, and when he connects mentally with Nika, her torture and thoughts give everyone a purpose in finding and freeing her.

The infinitely addictive drug Destiny is behind the kidnapping of Nika and other adolescent girls.  These men mean business and are not amateurs in protecting themselves; it's only a question whether the workers at the Institute, even with their enhanced powers, are able to save Nika and the other problems that come their way.  Technology is all around in the future, along with the drug.  Mac fights her attraction to Shane with every iota of her being; her ability to attract men since she was a teenager and her early life have persuaded her life by herself is best for her…well, except for sex of course.

Suzanne Brockmann has started a new series featuring characters with paranormal powers in the fight to save the world.  As usual, Ms. Brockmann is dealing with an ensemble cast of people in each story.  Told from each person's point of view, we lightly touch the innermost thoughts and life stories of each one.  Everyone has an intensely personal story and a reason for being where they are in the Obermeyer Institute and how they deal with their gifts and challenges.  Suzanne Brockmann is always a master in making a group of people a cohesive unit, and making us anxious to learn what is behind each person's deepest desires.

There are no secondary characters; they are an amalgam of each person involved in the Institute.  Stephen Diaz and Mac share the job of being Dr. Joseph Bach's second-in-command.  Elliott Zerkowski's abilities are barely above normal, except his medical abilities are invaluable to the team.  His years of admiring Stephen from afar and their immediate connection when they finally touch end their years of celibacy with a loud bang.  Anna Taylor is wildly looking for her sister Nika who was kidnapped right off the street on her way home from school.  And there are all the evil men, milking young teenage girls for the energy in their blood.  And the future is also important, where you have to pay to get someone on the online missing persons list and pay five thousand dollars to talk to a detective and open a case, with two hours of investigative time allocated.  And then there's Destiny, an instantly addictive drug that will keep you beautiful and healthy, except you need more and more of the drug and never know what type of paranormal powers you will also get with it.  Bend bullets and send them back to the shooter—no problem.  Start fires-easy peasey.  Shouted words are like a punch in the face—nobody knows what strange ability a jokered addict will have.  And perhaps even the first time you try the drug you could have a bad reaction to the drug and go crazy.

BORN TO DARKNESS is, as usual, Suzanne Brockmann at her best, creating an alternate world and populating it with characters of her own imagination.  Mac has a difficult time believing Shane could care for her without the aura of sexuality that she projects.  Shane knows as soon as he sees Mac that she is his for all time.  Shane must fight tooth and nail for his woman, and despite his lack of training in his paranormal abilities to date, his SEAL training still is invaluable to the team.  Left hanging is Anna and Dr. Bach's relationship, wondering if Nika's influence enhancing his paranormal abilities is from a romantic connection.  As of yet I don't see when the next book in the Fighting Destiny series will be published or whom it will involve, but one really doesn't care as Ms. Brockmann will give it her magic touch and keep us enthralled all the way through.  You can never miss with Suzanne Brockman, and BORN TO DARKNESS is a must read as the first book in her new series.

Carolyn Crisher