The Dark Light of Day
The Dark Light of Day is a dark book. The heroine has a dark past. The hero has a dark present. A lot of dark things happen. Whether or not you’ll like it depends a lot on how dark you like your stories. You also need to be willing to read about rape, child abuse, murder and, well, dark things.
Seventeen-year old Abby Ford has lived a life no one should suffer. Abused and neglected by her drugged-out parents and then abused and neglected by the foster parents who took her in, she only found some semblance of normal and love when she came to live with her Nan. But on the day of her high school graduation, Abby loses Nan, too. In an instant, Nan’s pipe dreams of Abby attending college become a joke. Instead she’s truly the loner that everyone in Coral Pines, Florida, believes her to be.
Abby first encounters Jake Dunn when he’s having a sexual act performed on him up against her grandmother’s truck, where the now homeless Abby has taken refuge for the night. Jake is a bad boy biker, with tattoos and black leather and a whole lot of attitude. But for some reason, Jake makes Abby feel safe. When he tells the social services lady that he’s Abby’s relative in order to keep Abby out of prison – she refuses to go back to foster care and will do anything to avoid it – he also gives her a home by allowing her to move into his apartment. He helps her find a job and promises to keep her out of the system until she turns eighteen.
Over the course of only a few days, Abby and Jake begin to open up to each other. Abby finally allows someone to see the horrid scars that she bears, and for the first time in her life, she doesn’t cringe at the touch of another person. But Jake’s job means that he has to leave town for long periods of time, and he vows to Abby to return as soon as he can. He promises that when he lives Coral Pines for good, he’ll take Abby with him. She finally begins to have hope that that her future will be better than her past.
Soon after Jake leaves for his next assignment, Abby is brutally assaulted. She knows that with her past and reputation, she’ll never get any justice by reporting the crime. Rather, she determines to seek revenge when Jake comes back. But Jake’s response when he returns is almost more brutal than anything she’d ever endured in her entire, miserable life. The love that Abby thought she’d finally found crumbles like dust, and she finds herself all alone again, unwilling to ever trust anyone.
Around the middle of the book, I almost put it down for good. Up to that point, I’d been very intrigued by Abby. The life she’d endured was unimaginable, yet she didn’t harbor a ton of self-pity. Rather, Abby remained strong and practical given her current circumstances. I was very interested to read about how Jake would slowly break down her walls and how the two would slowly come to love and trust each other.
The problem is that the “slowly” was entirely missing, and what resulted was a heap of insta-love that almost caused me whiplash. Truly, I kept flipping back and forth thinking maybe my e-book was missing some pages or chapters. All of the sudden, Jake is confessing his love for Abby, and the girl who felt as if she were being burned with acid at a mere touch is craving physical affection from a virtual stranger. I’m used to stories where deep emotional and psychological issues are miraculously healed with the love of a good man/woman and nary a visit to a mental health care professional, but this took that ridiculousness to a whole new level. I won’t even go into the fact that despite the insane amount of past abuse she endured, Abby is, naturally, an orgasmic virgin.
At least in other aspects Abby was a likeable protagonist. She has tons of flaws, and she engages in behaviours I don’t personally approve of, but at least she remains consistent. For example, Abby smokes pot as a seventeen-year-old, and she smokes pot as an adult. Due to her past, Abby doesn’t rely on others to help her solve her problems. She believes the only person she can trust is herself, and she proceeds accordingly. I like her self-reliance.
Jake, on the other hand, is a different story. Straight up, Jake is a murderer. He’s a hitman who makes a lot of money killing people. No apology is made for this, no explanation offered as to why he chose this profession over any other. Even to the very end of the story, Jake is brutal and ruthless, and while he confesses that he knows he’s going to Hell, he doesn’t seem to hold any regrets. It’s awfully hard to like a guy like that. It’s impossible to call him a hero even if his victims are even worse bad guys.
Towards the end of the book, Frazier makes a huge mistake that really frustrated me, not only because I knew the correct information as a matter of common knowledge, but because the facts were so easy to look up and the error so easily avoided. The scene involves a blood transfusion and a hospital worker is looking for that “rare O” blood type. Anyone who has taken high school biology knows that O is actually the most common blood type there is (one in three people have O blood). The scene goes on around the rarity of type O blood, and I wanted to throw the book against the wall.
If you can overlook the darkness of the story, The Dark Light of Day is fairly well written. It’s definitely not a feel-good story, and it does include the dreaded Big Misunderstanding. But the story picked up substantially in the second half, which did much to redeem my frustrations with it. I can mildly recommend it, but only to those who aren’t faint of heart.