Review: Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

Filed in 4 1/2 Stars , featured , Laura Kaye , Review , The Needy Lover Posted on January 6, 2012 @ 12:00 pm 5 comments

Format read: ebook purchased by reviewer
Release Date: April 20, 2011 (issued as paperback August 9, 2011)
Number of pages: 230 pages (110 pages paperback)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Publisher’s Website


Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.

Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.

To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?

My Thoughts:

Based on this book’s cover, you might assume that it is one of the many Black Dagger Brotherhood-esque stories with hulking, tattooed heros that have dark, violent souls. Not so! This is actually a contemporary romance with a high-concept premise and lots of emotion. Two people who’ve never seen each other are stuck in a dark, confined space, left to discover each other in every sense. The novella’s opening quote, by William Shakespeare, says it best: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

I really like how Kaye seamlessly wove little expository details into the action, details that provide reasoning behind the somewhat unlikely sequence of events throughout the book. She wasn’t bashing the reader over the head with “See? This is how they end up trapped without means of communication,” or “Here’s the part where I establish motive for the character’s deciding to share his story.” That could’ve easily been the case, what with any reader likely wanting explanations (Why does the main character just happen to have a deathly fear of dark, tight spaces? How is it that the characters don’t actually see each other?). But thankfully, such details were handled deftly.

For this being of novella length and set over the span of one night, there is a surprisingly believable emotional connection established between the lead characters. I bought into the relatively quick kinship and attraction that is built based on a shared traumatic experience. Sitting in the dark of a broken elevator, the two main characters talk about every topic under the sun, including the superficial and intensely private. They experience the equivalent of several dates’ worth of bonding, simply by the nature of their situation. There’s no “Instalust” here, not in the negative sense of the word.

Hero Caden Grayson is a compelling study in the differences between appearance and character. I was endeared by his very gentle spirit, yet entranced by his raw attractiveness. He’s hot to be sure, but he’s also cultivated an intimidating outward image to hide the emotional scars he harbors. The treatment of his traumatic past is neither rushed nor made trivial; even though this story itself is relatively short, both Caden’s and Makenna’s personalities and motivations are given a fair amount of development.

That said, I’m not quite sure I understood the addition of Makenna’s negative self-image issues; it didn’t add to the story the way Caden’s did. Furthermore, it seemed slightly ludicrous given the fact that (a) she is established as being a self-sufficient, opinionated, strong-willed woman, and (b) she is supposedly very pretty, indeed. But that’s a minor observation, one that I wouldn’t even classify as a gripe.

It’s hard to say that this story should have been longer; I think the length of the story served the concept well. But I absolutely, postively crave more Caden and Makenna. ^_^ This is my second time reading a Laura Kaye book (the first having been Forever Freed), but by golly, this will so not be my last. Her characters are so accesible, her romances wonderfully sweet and emotionally complex. Yep, I’m definitely a Kaye fangirl now. ^_^

I give Hearts in Darkness 4.5 stars!

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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  • Marika Weber January 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Loved this book. I would agree with you about Makenna’s self doubt. It got rather annoying. Caden to me was a much more relatable character than Makenna. The ending was perfect. *g*

  • Jan January 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    The review makes the book sound intriguing.
    I won’t desperately search for it but if I come across it will read it.

  • aurian January 7, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Great review Alisha! Getting trapped in an elevator alone or with some one else is certainly one of my fears.

  • Tamsyn January 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

    I like that the hero, outwardly alpha, has a weakness. The book definitely sounds interesting.

  • Mary Kirkland January 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I have this one in my wish list and will be getting it on my next shopping trip on amazon..I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while, it really sounds good.

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