I first heard of Against the Dark (2013) by Carolyn Crane through a Cannonball review. It sounded right up my alley, but wasn’t available at my library, so I didn’t do anything about it. Then I saw that the Kindle version was free on Amazon (and still is, if anyone is interested). With the right price and needing the escapist fun of a romance, I picked it up, read it in a day. And it was totally worth it!
Against the Dark is the first book in what I think is a series of four–the “Undercover Associates” books. Angel is a former safecracker, who gave up the job for the straight and narrow. However, she is brought back for one last job with her girl group of thieves when one of the women’s aunt is kidnapped and threatened.
Angel and her group find themselves in the hedonistic home of a horrible criminal, Walter Borgola, with a plan to break into his safe, steal some precious jewels, and get out of there undetected. Cole is working undercover as one of Borgola’s security agents–trying to break up some kind of horrible, child sex-trafficking snuff ring. He immediately spots Angel but doesn’t figure out her game until after she’s got the gems. When Cole realizes that Angel has the skills he needs to break into Borgola’s safe, he tracks her down. Angel is forced to go back to the dangerous Borgola mansion, playing Cole’s girlfriend, as they work together to steal information from one of the most dangerous and paranoid people in the world.
I liked a number of things about this book. It was fast paced and entertaining. It was dangerous and sexy and easy to read. Cole and Angel had a nice relationship, with plenty of attraction. They worked together well, even with the necessary distrust each had towards the other. Their first love scene was very memorable, with Crane managing a hot balance between creepy voyeurism, Cole’s protectiveness, and their undeniable mutual attraction.
Because this book was fun and entertaining, I could gloss over some of the more ridiculous aspects as I was reading, even if I didn’t forget them. Borgola was a caricature of an evil, dangerous man. It wouldn’t have been bad enough for Borgola to be a drug dealer and killer. No, he had to kill innocent children in snuff films. Also, even though I liked that Cole was a smart guy, he figures out vast criminal conspiracies with his “equations.” These equations were very mysterious and very powerful, and they felt like a cheap shortcut to actually explaining how real investigations work. Finally, in the beginning Angel and her gorgeous gang of girls get into Borgola’s mansion by posing as prostitutes at a big sex party. This seems like a bad idea at a party where the prostitutes (and probably any women who found themselves there) were not allowed to say no. Apparently, they held off advances by saying they were waiting for someone, but I found that hard to buy. Anyway, it’s not perfect, but it was a fun book and worth the price.
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