Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Touched By Darkness" and a lot more

For my Senior News book review column that runs every month, I try to get a cross section of a lot of different Texas type books for consideration. Back in March or so, I put out a call to one of the local writing groups and was flooded with responses. Because I get so many books anyway for other projects, I am always a bit behind. As such, I'm just now getting to some of these books such as the one today.

Touched By Darkness
By Catherine Spangler
Berkley Sensation
January 2007
ISBN # 978-0-425-21400-8
292 Pages

Atlantis existed thousands of years ago before being destroyed and sinking into the North Atlantic. Its legacy lives on today through reincarnated beings that walk among us mere mortals. Some of them are the sons of Belial who relish chaos and violence. They are opposed by other reincarnated Atlantian souls known as the Sentinels. Just like the Belians, they are mortals that have superhuman powers. They attempt to track and eliminate Belians on behalf of the Sanctioned which are the aides to the priest of Atlantis. Last but not least are the conductors—those rare humans that are genetically capable of linking with a Sentinel. Such is the world envisioned by Richardson, Texas Author Catherine Spangler in the start of her new series.

Seven years ago, Kara's Sentinel lover Richard Wayman was killed in a violent confrontation with a Belian. His legacy for her is two fold---an all encompassing love for him intertwined with the painful memeories of his violent death which she witnessed and their son, Alex. While she can't do much of anything to get rid of the terror filled memories, she can and will do anything in her power to protect their son, Alex. She moved and moved again, each time working to hide their son who gradually showed signs that he has his father's abilities. Eventually they settled in the small Texas town of Zorro where she resumed her medical practice.

All was peaceful and tranquil until one morning she arrives in town with Alex and she senses the power. She hasn't sensed power that strong since Richard and it is clear that the tall man in the duster staring hard at her is the source. He is Damien Morgan; ostensibly a writer for a nationwide magazine and who, in reality is a Sentinel on the trail of a Belian killing in the area. A death, dismissed as natural causes was the work of a Belian and there will be more. The fact that Alex is, an untrained Sentinel and as such broadcasting his own presence, is sure to lure the Belian to them. To protect Alex, Damien must convince Kara of what is happening now and what is to come if he doesn't become part of their lives. For Kara, she is torn between her desire to run yet again, the memories of a man she once loved, the lure Damien represents as he is the first to make her feel this way since Richard, and the danger her young son faces. Gradually, she realizes that running away won't work this time and she has to stand and fight with Damien.

What follows in an entertaining paranormal romance. Simplified greatly, the novel is the age old battle between good and evil. In Catherine Spangler's hands, it becomes something more with rich complex characters full of emotion. Evil threatens in the form of a Belian and yet Kara is one of us all who fears facing again what she has dealt with before. Besides, Damien is clearly a hunk!

It is mildly graphic in a couple of points and some reviewers have complained about that aspect of it arguing that the relationship between Damien and Kara is cheapened by Kara's actions. It would appear that such reviewers are being overly critical of a clear character development issue, though obviously there is a point to their position in that the novel will be read differently by each gender in addition to the personal background of the reviewer. With interesting characters, the occasional plot twist, and plenty of romance this is a novel that delivers a strong read within the genre and is well worth your time.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2007

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