Title: Of Dark and Bright (Dark Horse #3)
Author: Kate Sherwood
Cover Artist: Justin James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Of Dark and Bright (Dark Horse Series)
Genre: Contemporary M/M/M Romance
Length: 200 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: I loved the other books in this series but found this one more of a challenge to my unconditional love of all things Danny.
Blurb: Jeff, Evan, and Dan have been living happily together for the past two years. They still have problems, especially between Evan and Dan, but they’re mostly able to convert the interpersonal disagreements to sexual tension—and then resolve it—so nobody’s complaining.
Then Dan’s long-lost sister shows up seven months pregnant and on the run from the law, and the situation goes from complicated to overwhelming. Jeff and Evan want to help, but with Evan fearful for his own sister’s safety and Jeff struggling to keep his health issues under wraps, they’re a little distracted. As Dan’s sister struggles with her past, Evan’s seems intent on gambling with her future. With emotions and family ties pulling them in different directions, the threesome have to hold together—or the people they love may tear them apart.
I found myself standing on rather shaky ground with this review, I completely and unconditionally fell for Danny in Dark Horse, the first book in the series. (Lily’s excellent and balanced review is here.) So I’d be grateful if you’d kindly forget about reviewer detachment as it’s probably not going to make much of an appearance. This is one of the few books that still makes me sob and yet unusually I never resent the emotion it forces from me. I always found that while overall Dark Horse was a slightly flawed book, it is still one of my all time, rationed reread favourites. The slight problems it had were actually ones that far from detracted from my pleasure. Trying to look at it with a critical eye, it was slightly self indulgent, a little unevenly paced and over long in execution, but being- as previously mentioned- totally in love with the beautiful Danny, I enjoyed every self doubting, emotional, vulnerable moment we spent in his mixed up mind. Moreover there is an excellent and really genuine feel to all the horse details and the event world, which really mattered to me having been involved with horses myself. I am yet to forgive one M/M writer for talking about a horse’s ankles!
Danny’s developing and often problematic relationships with Jeff and Evan is put under further pressures in the second book, Out of the Darkness which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Kate Sherwood has generously written other free additions to these two books which fill out a lot of very important and heartbreaking detail. Trust me here – do not read Sometimes You Just Know before Dark Horse unless you are seriously into pain.
Now we come to Of Bright and Dark, which as you can imagine I was looking forward to but with a touch of apprehension, because I’m pathetic that way. This book, unlike the previous two which came directly from Danny’s often confused but always fascinating internal world, shares the points of view with Jeff and Evan. There were benefits from this, well for me, as it was lovely seeing Danny through other people’s eyes………I did warn you about this infatuation…….but it also brought some problems. As you can tell these are emotion heavy books, it is not a casual kind of body popping menage, there are feelings and concerns and stuff always bubbling away under the surface. So when you get intimate with that times three – it is very intense. With the first books Danny’s rambling thoughts brought a kind of strange peace to the proceedings. Here with three points of self absorption the overwhelming emotions they were all having became too concentrated in flavour much like an over seasoned soup. This is where it becomes confusing; because the writing is much tighter in this book, Kate Sherwood has clearly developed her considerable skills, and yet I still wasn’t completely happy with the outcome.
Part of the problem is that this distillation of a three way viewpoint completely emphasised that even two years into the very loving, sexually incandescent relationship, under stress they all fell back- with bells on -into the default positions of the very first books.They are all doing what they did before, with no real surprises in the character arcs. This left Danny hurt, defensive and wanting to run, Jeff trying to cope as the care giver and Evan, energetic, demanding and thoughtless, but carelessly generous with material things. I really got a hate going for Evan in this book. He just about redeemed himself toward the end, but it was tough for a while.
Jeff was dealt a poor hand here too as he behaved outside of his normal grounded character for me in letting his health problems escalate so badly. I believed in the original carelessness, but not the denial when it clearly was a serious situation. By the way I know this whole review is self indulgent so I thought I would compound it with this picture I found among the Friday Guys, it just growled I’m Jeff at me!
I really liked hearing about the success of the new career and his protective feelings for the paintings he did of Danny. His odd alliance with Chris felt wrong. I thought Chris was all over the place in this book, but that is possibly because I didn’t believe a development in his life that was dealt with in a short story. However, even still there is a reassuring line spoken by Chris out of concern for Danny that made my throat catch.
The stress that was heaped on the guys was an intense and heavy load indeed. I thought the action plot dealing with Danny’s pregnant sister Christa was very well written and executed. She was a dramatic catalyst that polarised Dan and Evan’s connection. However this, in combination with the weight of the other two sub plot developments concerning Tatiana’s safety and Jeff’s health, actually almost fractured my belief in the relationship. Even with the talk of therapy, I am not sure I quite believed they could carry on with what is going to be a life changing experience after all the hurtfulness and distrust of before – I’m talking to you Evan………..
So I found this book a mixed blessing, I loved seeing the characters again. No one is going to be surprised when I say that I think Danny shines through here, I thought the strengths of his personality were revealed with appealing clarity. The story gave me a lot to think and worry about, meanwhile Kate Sherwood remains one of my must buy authors. If there is a fourth book I’ll be waiting to read it.