Desert Isle Keeper
Into the Dark
Into the Dark, which is the fifth installment in Karen Rose’s Cincinnati series, is one of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I fell in love with Dr. Dani Novak and computer hacker extraordinaire Diesel Kennedy way back in book one (Closer Than You Think), and I have been on tenterhooks waiting for their story. Ms. Rose has finally delivered it, and it’s everything I hoped for and then some.
Before I get into the meat of this review, I want to let potential readers know that it’s completely possible to read Into the Dark even if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. Both the romance and the mystery are wrapped up at the end of the book, and while the story makes reference to events from previous installments, you can follow this one with no problems. Of course, your understanding of the characters and their relationships with one another will be much fuller and richer if you read the series in order, but if you absolutely cannot wait to dive into this one, you can definitely do that.
Dani Novak is a tough, hard-working doctor who spends her days tending to the sick and injured at one of Cincinnati’s only clinics for people on low incomes. She sometimes misses the hustle and bustle of emergency medicine, but she was forced to resign her position at the local hospital when her HIV status was revealed two years before this story begins. Even so, she leads a happy life, even if there’s not a special someone for her to share it with.
Elvis (Diesel) Kennedy has had a huge crush on Dani since the moment he laid eyes on her nearly three years earlier. He knows she’s attracted to him as well, but she has persistently kept him at arm’s length, and he’s beginning to lose hope. He knows she’s HIV positive, and although this is not a deal-breaker for him, he can’t help but wonder if it could be the reason for Dani’s refusal to be anything more than his friend.
In his spare time, Diesel volunteers as a soccer coach, serving as a male role model to boys in need. Years ago, Diesel himself suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of a trusted adult, and he’s made it his personal mission to protect as many children as possible, so when Michael Rowland, the older brother of one of the boys on Diesel’s soccer team, shows up to pick five-year-old Joshua up from practice with a bleeding head injury, Diesel knows something is dreadfully wrong. He convinces Michael to accompany him to the clinic where Dani works, and once Dani examines the boy, it’s obvious he’s been abused.
The story takes off from there, but I’ll leave the rest for you to figure out on your own. Readers of Ms. Rose’s previous books are no doubt familiar with her high-octane brand of romantic suspense, and she definitely does not disappoint with Into the Dark. Dani and Diesel are both extremely kind and caring people with a lot of emotional baggage to sort through before they are able to claim their HEA, and their journey is breathtaking. There’s something so special about the way Ms. Rose is able to enter the heads of these complicated characters and bring their struggles and their triumphs to life on the page.
I was particularly pleased with the way the author handles Dani’s HIV status and her partial deafness. Readers of the previous books in the series will know that Dani has struggled to come to terms with the fact that she’s HIV positive and the implications it has on all aspects of her life, but she never seems to let it get the best of her, and the same is true of her hearing loss. The author allows readers to get to know Dani as a whole person, not simply as someone with a disability, and this sets her apart from many of today’s authors.
Some people complain about the length of Ms. Rose’s books, but they always fly by for me, and this one is no exception. At a little over 600 pages, it’s a book you might expect to drag on and on, but it never does. Despite its length, the story is fast-paced, making it possible to devour it in just a couple of sittings.
If you tend to steer clear of books containing graphic descriptions of violence, this won’t be the book for you. Ms. Rose doesn’t shy away from the darker side of humanity, and I know that’s not something everyone enjoys. She doesn’t describe things in a way that feels over the top, but there are a few scenes that could turn your stomach if you aren’t prepared for them.
I loved everything about this book, and I can’t wait for Dani and Diesel’s story to be released into the world. It’s a book with so much heart filled with characters who have begun to feel like friends of mine, and I want everyone to embrace them the way I have.