So far, I’m enjoying the Family Secrets: The Next Generation spinoff series more than the original continuity. The trend continues in the latest book, Triple Dare by Candace Irvin. A very strong read highlighted by intriguing characters, this is one of the best out of the nearly two dozen books released so far.
Abby Pembroke is a concert violinist with the New York Philharmonic. After her father’s death, she made the decision to stop touring so that she could stay closer to her twin brother, who has Down’s Syndrome. In order to make it possible for him to occasionally stay with her, she gave up her old studio apartment and found swanky new digs in the exclusive Tristan Court Building. But she soon learns to resent one of her neighbors.
Darian Sabura is one of the most eligible bachelors in America, a daredevil action-sport enthusiast and one of the country’s richest men. When he learned that she was moving in, he tried to prevent it from happening. Abby believes he was prejudiced against her brother. The behavior doesn’t surprise her. Until recently, she was involved with an assistant district attorney from a prominent family. Then he and his mother made it clear how they felt about her brother and her “tainted” gene pool. Abby is convinced her new neighbor must feel the same way. She doesn’t know that the reason he tried to keep her out of the building had nothing to do with her brother. It was because of her.
Darian Sabura is an empath, one who is able to deeply feel the emotions of others. It’s a gift and a curse. He can use his ability to help others, but it often comes at great cost to himself. He can’t escape their feelings, or prevent himself from feeling them as if they were his own. From the moment he spots Abby in the lobby of his apartment building, he knows she is different. He responds to her in a way he never has to anyone before, and feels her on an extrasensory level that is completely new to him. He knows he should stay away from her, but after she moves into the building, Dare finds himself drawn into her life.
The initial misunderstanding is soon dispatched, and Abby can’t help but be intrigued by her enigmatic neighbor. When she is attacked one night after leaving the concert hall, Dare is there to save her. But after the cops become involved in the case, Abby starts to hear rumors about Dare’s mysterious, possibly criminal, past. Something tells her to trust him, but even she might not be able to handle the truth behind his secrets.
This is the third in a six-book miniseries, but Irvin does a very good job of making this a stand-alone story that works well on its own terms. It’s not overloaded with exposition. Instead, she allows the story of these two people to take center stage from page one. The author only gradually reveals how this book fits in the overall scheme of things, allowing the reader to learn that these events are part of a larger picture as the characters do. It’s well-done, and should make this story more accessible to both readers who have been following this series and those who haven’t.
The characters are the best part of the book, as Irvin introduces us to two unique and compelling people. Both Dare and Abby are characters who are a little different from any that I’ve seen in a romance in a long time, if ever. There’s a freshness to them that makes them intriguing, and both are mostly well-developed. Dare, in particular, stands out, and it’s fascinating to learn about his past and see how his abilities affect him. For instance, Abby invites him to come hear her play, which he knows he shouldn’t do. He ultimately can’t resist the temptation and goes, only to spend the entire performance in the restroom, trying to block out the onslaught of emotion he can sense from the hall full of people. The story has a little bit of a gothic feel (just a little bit), with Dare as the mysterious, isolated hero with secrets the heroine must uncover. Some readers may not be entirely comfortable with the way Dare reads her thoughts and emotions, at times using his mental influence to affect her thinking in minor ways, but the way the author eventually deals with the issue is effective.
The story moves at a somewhat leisurely pace, not exactly slow, but taking its time as the author develops her characters. It’s definitely more of a character-driven suspense story than one propelled by the action. With characters like these, that’s probably the best approach. It’s worth spending the time getting to know them.
Triple Dare is a great addition to the Family Secrets series. Whether you’ve been following the series or not, this book is a strong and satisfying read.