Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

TITLE: Hearts in Darkness
AUTHOR: Laura Kaye
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 29k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $3.75

Makenna James and Caden Grayson have one thing in common on this Friday night – getting stuck in an elevator. Caden’s claustrophobia is only eased by Makenna’s voice, and thus starts an evening of getting to know each other, all without really knowing what the other person looks like…

Sometimes I’m drawn to simple ideas. That doesn’t mean they always work. The premise in this novella is very basic. Two strangers get stuck in an elevator, and with the complete lack of light, they’re forced to get to know each other first through words rather than appearances. Caden is convinced this works in his favor since he’s scarred, inked, and pierced. People are always judging him on his rough appearance. On the other hand, Makenna is used to being one of the guys. Being thought pretty is rarely on her radar. Caden has to fight his claustrophobia, and talking to Makenna helps. Gradually, they get to know about each other and discover they have a lot in common, as well as learn they’re attracted to each other, too, just from the sounds of their voices.

I really liked the idea of this. The notion of a blind attraction appealed to me when I was in need of something sweet and not so superficial, and in some ways, satisfied what I was looking for. It’s not a challenging read in the slightest. Prose is simple, characterizations easy. The author doesn’t have to worry too much about description or scene building since they’re sitting in the dark for a good part of the story. Makenna and Caden are sympathetic protagonists – she’s a tomboyish accountant, he’s a damaged paramedic with anxiety issues – but they felt a little paint-by-numbers for me, never really leaping off the page though there’s certainly nothing wrong with them. Caden fared better, but then I have a soft spot for inked, pierced, damaged men.

Technically speaking, this was another headhopping story and one in which it ended up becoming very obtrusive. The author has a tendency to backtrack a few moments every time she switches heads, which creates this jerky rhythm as I’m forced to re-experience the latest events from the other perspective. This can be done effectively, but not here. It got very annoying the further into the story I got. What I didn’t understand is why the author would headhop all throughout the story, but then, towards the end, have a scene break to show a switch in perspective, complete with scene markers to show it, when that device was never used before in the story. Oddly inconsistent and lowered my opinion of it more because I thought, “Well, someone clearly understands the potential of scene breaks to show POV changes so why the hell didn’t they do it throughout the story?”

Not an awful read by any means. It’s swift and a change of pace from more superficial romances. It just wasn’t great, either.


6/10 – Headhopping and mild backtracking every time it switches POV annoyed me rather than added to the story


7/10 – I liked him more for the idea of him rather than actually believing he’s as real as the author might hope


6/10 – Attempts to be strong and level-headed but doesn’t always come across that way

Entertainment value

6/10 – Mild escapism. I liked the idea of it, but the execution left me wanting more

World building

6/10 – With two characters trapped in the dark for over half the story, the focus isn’t here



No comments: