Eve Silver’s debut tale of a damsel in distress and the mysterious doctor who rescues her draws the reader in with a deliciously dark, Gothic atmosphere that sets it apart from the light and fluffy historicals of recent years. Silver does an excellent job of evoking a dark and spooky mood and, while the organization of the story is a little rough in places, she is definitely an author who shows promise.
Though gently bred, Darcie’s family lost all of their money and position. As the novel opens, Darcie’s stepfather is dead and she finds herself forced to seek employment with her sister, the notorious madam Mrs. Feather. However, Darcie’s sister refuses to take her, sending her instead to the mysterious Dr. Damien Cole. The taciturn Dr. Cole takes Darcie on as a servant in his household, where Darcie finds herself uncertain whether her sister’s decision for her was a mercy or a torment.
A mysterious killer is stalking London, killing prostitutes in a vicious fashion. Dr. Cole’s ties to that illicit community, as well as the troubling anatomy experiments Darcie witnesses, cause her to fear that her employer may be more than just a healer. Darcie is intrigued by Dr. Cole, both drawn to and terrified of him in brilliant Gothic fashion.
The doctor seems at times to return Darcie’s fascination. He is intrigued by the unexpected intelligence and talent she displays and, as they work ever more closely together, an attraction flames to life. My major quibble with this tale lay in the pacing. Darcie and Damien’s relationship seems to go from zero to flaming hot so quickly that the reader almost gets whiplash reading it. While Silver does a wonderful job of maintaining the dark, Gothic atmosphere of her story all the way through the book, the development of the romantic relationship feels a little uneven at times.
Darcie and Damien are both strong, compelling characters. While they have some elements of the innocent heroine and the dark brooding Gothic hero, they are far more than mere archetypes. Silver uses the old Gothic formulas as a starting point, but she develops them into a story far richer – and hotter- than most of the Gothics I remember. Her tale is moody and suspenseful and, though the ending was rushed a bit, it is a very entertaining read.
While my recommendation is qualified due to the sometimes rough pacing of the novel, Dark Desires is a promising debut. Silver breathes new life into the old-fashioned Gothic and I look forward to watching her perfect her craft.