RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Dark Angel by T.J. Bennett


Title: Dark Angel
Author: T.J. Bennett
Publication Info: Entangled: Edge October 2013
Genre: Historical: European

Book Dark Angel This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Lizzy. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

When young widow Catherine Briton is washed ashore, the sole survivor of a violent shipwreck, all she wants is to go home to London. But injured as she is, she can’t escape when a shadowy stranger rescues her and takes her to his castle—where she’s healed with suspicious, almost magical speed.

The more time Catherine spends in the castle, the more her curiosity rises where her fiercely handsome new “master,” Gerard, is concerned. As she begins to investigate, though, her discoveries only bring more questions. It seems Gerard isn't the only one on the island keeping secrets…

The small town is full of strange mysteries and townspeople who know more than they should about her. And when a hulking beast that stalks the nearby hills and valleys catches up to her, Catherine must figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

And here is Lizzy's review:

I chose to review this book with no previous knowledge because I was a bit late to the signing up game, but thought it would be fun to write a review. I always have opinions about the books that I read, but generally my beloved is the only one who benefits from my rants and well-reasoned arguments. Having signed up for Dark Angel by TJ Bennett, I happily made my way to Amazon and bought the kindle version while avoiding the synopsis and reviews so that I would be a blank slate.

The story is told in the first person by the heroine, Mrs. Catherine Britton, a widow who was travelling from the Isle of Man to England when a vicious storm sunk her ship and cast her onto the shores of Ynys Nos. She is found by the mysterious Gerard who brings her into his opulent home and takes care of her. Although she desperately wants to return to England, she is informed that leaving is not a possibility. In fact, nobody ever leaves Ynys Nos!

While trying to come to terms with her new situation, Catherine befriends the local minister and learns that there are many mysteries surrounding her new home. The least of which is not Gerard or the Master, as he is known to everyone else on the island. Throw in a beast in the mist, a shady local troublemaker, some immortality, and a hero who is only available after sunset and you have a novel that pulls you in and keeps the pages turning as you and Catherine try to understand a secret island.

I liked the world building in this novel as well as the heroine who was mature and headstrong without coming off as contrived. The island of Ynys Nos was a unique setting and I really wanted to figure everything out. What is Gerard hiding? Why is he afraid of telling the truth to Catherine? Can she really never leave? I was definitely more interested in figuring out what was going on more than I was invested in the romance between Gerard and Catherine. Unfortunately, that eventually left me feeling a little let down.  

My problem with the romance is that Gerard was playing the typical alpha the evening after he found Catherine mostly unconscious on the beach. He didn’t know a dang thing about her and was already ready to give her anything she wanted or needed. All they had going for them was some powerful lust; they didn’t know each other and were making grand statements of trust and love and I was just feeling lukewarm about it all. I’ll admit that the magic feeling of love that drops from outer space onto the hero is a romance pet peeve of mine, so it’s possible that other readers may not feel the same way.

Despite not being totally on board with the romance, I was pulled in by the secrets, though their resolution was my biggest problem with this book. It wasn’t awful; it was just rushed, anticlimactic, and incomplete. The majority of the book was spent building a big mystery about what happened to the island and why Gerard felt so responsible for all of it, and the resolution quickly explained it away in a couple of paragraphs without even fully acknowledging what he did. And then the book is over.

What? What just happened? There is a huge, maybe dangerous, mystery and it turns out that it’s really no big deal?! Oh, well, now I just feel like I wasted three hours of my life wondering what the hell our tortured hero did. Because I’m never really going to know.

It was like the author had a really great concept for a story with tension from the unknown, but didn’t spend enough time thinking about how to resolve it in a satisfying way. For 90% of the book, I was really interested and impressed with the story, and for the last 10% I was ticked off that that was all I was getting. I’m annoyed and not sure exactly what I would rate this book, because if the end was better I would have given it a solid B. But the end affects how I look back on the whole story and if feels more like a C.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Christine says:

    That’s a shame, since I’m a sucker for a good beauty and the beast plot (sounds like the inspiration here). I wonder if sometimes authors don’t kind of write themselves into a corner when drawing on a strong archetype like that—like, you suddenly realize everybody’s read this before, so do you do something wild and crazy at the end or do you color right between the lines or what?

  2. 2
    Sarita says:

    Pity, I’m a sucker for stories that can engagingly pull off an extended sense of what-the-hell
    s-going-on, but it’s always a let-down when the ending doesn’t live up to the suspense.

  3. 3
    Lulu says:

    Maybe you’ll like Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge?

Comments are closed.

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