by Jayne Rylon, contemporary (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-800-0
Jayne Rylon's Night Is Darkest involves three people. One woman and two men, naturally. Oh, and the two men are also secretly gay for each other, although since they are also straight for the heroine, I guess this makes them bisexuals.
Lacey Daughtry, our heroine, doesn't come off like the most stable person around. Her most constant male authority figure in her life was her brother Rob, and when he was killed by a mugger at the start of the story (and his last words were to tell Lacey that he loved her... in a non-Flowers In The Attic way, I suppose), she is bereft and lost. Luckily, our heroes Tyler Lambert and Mason Clark are here to prop her up and, er, fill all the empty spaces inside her. They are Rob's best friends and they also like to share their women.
When they discover Lacey having a nervous breakdown after the funeral and they try to calm her down, Tyler's small head takes over from his big head and he ends up deflowering Lacey. Mason is not happy because he and Tyler had made a pact not to plant their flag on Lacey's uncharted territory. Their confrontation ends up with Tyler on his knees and making amends in a most agreeable manner for his transgression on the women they had both agreed to be off-limits. It is then that I learn that these two men are also doing each other when they are not doing women. They are both cops, but don't ask me how these two manage to balance their work with their social life.
So now we have two guys who both want Lacey as well as each other, with Mason thinking that Lacey wants Tyler more than he while Tyler is like, "Oh, is Mason pushing me away for porking Lacey? Oh, the angst!" Of course, we need to find Rob's murderer as well. Since it's very clear that a ménage à trois is in the cards, all that angst feels like a tedious waste of space to me. This is where I have a problem with this story: the emotional issues feel contrived and therefore I don't have much patience to deal with them. This could due to the fact that the characters come off more like paint-by-numbers stereotypes of this kind of stories than genuine well-drawn people. Two guys who are conveniently bisexual for each other while wanting the same woman, the woman who is so in need of male authority figures in her life that her attraction to these two men seem to stem from some kind of psychological issue... it's all here. The disappointing conclusion to the suspense subplot, complete with a clichéd romantic suspense villain, doesn't help improve matters much.
It's not that Night Is Darkest is deliberately written as a paint-by-numbers three-is-fun story. Ms Rylon tries to introduce some emotional complexity and angst to flesh out her story, but unfortunately the whole thing doesn't work well for me. As a result, I'd give the author some credit for trying, but that's all I can do, I'm afraid.
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