In Darkness Bound

Title: In Darkness Bound
Author: Christine Price
Publisher: Carina Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M/M urban fantasy romance
Length: 230 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
Genuinely chilling world-building and good characterisation is let down slightly by the ménage romance.

THE BLURB

Data Collection by Dalhousie, Dr. Donna L.

Patient 331

New, confused. His powers unknown.

Patient 289

No longer viable in the test pool, he remains in isolation.

Patient 77

Reclassified to staff status. Useful, malleable.

Confined in a sterile research facility and treated like a lab rat, Chris is alone and terrified. His special powers are his only escape, allowing him to psychically connect with other patients.

Alone in his cell for longer than he can remember, Vance is hungry. When newcomer Chris makes a mental connection, Vance is intrigued and soon wants more than just conversation.

Chris and Vance seek comfort with each other, and with Simon—the only staff member who’s shown them a hint of compassion. Their relationships develop during stolen moments, and they turn their thoughts to escape. But as Dr. Dalhousie’s madness spirals, more than cell walls threaten to keep them apart…

THE REVIEW

I love a good Urban Fantasy and when I saw this at Carina Press, I was intrigued by the setting and how the ménage romance was going to work.

Chris is a telepath who has hidden his powers all his life after accidentally murdering his older brother. He’s dossing his way through college by picking the answers out of his tutor’s minds. When one of his tutors becomes suspicious it leads to Chris being brought to the attention of Dr Donna Dalhousie, who captures Chris and locks him up in her facility for testing. Whilst there Chris meets another prisoner, Vance, and they form a friendship which leads to more. Both men are also attracted to Simon, who used to be a patient but is now Dr Dalhousie’s assistant. Within the confines of their incarceration, and despite the increasingly erratic behaviour of the Doctor, the three men plot their escape.

This book can be divided into two aspects: The world building and the romance between Vance, Chris and Simon. By far the best was the world building which managed to combine Urban Fantasy with a chilling contemporary setting.  The book is set almost entirely in the testing facility deep underground.  With almost zero chance of escape, and the constant supervision by the vicious orderlies, the setting was claustrophobic and at times a little bleak.  I was therefore glad of the secondary plot involving a member of the ‘Society’ who is suspicious and begins to investigate Chris’ disappearance from college as this provided a break from the dark facility setting.

What also saved the situation from being overwhelming was the characterisation, especially that of Chris who uses his time in the facility to stretch his powers.  He uses his telepathy to astrally project himself and explores his surroundings.  It’s during this time that he is able to meet Vance and they begin to communicate.  Chris’ curiosity and his determination to find a way out of his imprisonment proves to be a catalyst, and his personality is the most well rounded and sympathetic out of the three men.  I liked him a great deal.  Vance was also a very interesting character, although out of the three he had least character development in the story.  His weariness at being captured, and his bitterness about what he sees as Simon’s betrayal does rather define him but he was still engaging enough that I liked him as a character.  Simon was a little less well defined, and veers throughout the story between his misplaced duty to Dr Dalhousie, his upset over the way he has treated Vance and his growing feelings for Chris.  I think Simon was supposed to come across as self sacrificing and noble, but unfortunately I saw him as rather weak and spineless.  One thing that I did like was the portrayal of Dr Dalhousie who managed to be shown as professional, cold and insane, but with a streak of bewildered humanity about her.  This set her apart from the usual ‘mad scientist’ character who crops up.  She was still frustratingly chilling in her determination to continue her research at all costs, but her relationship with Simon and her feelings of possessiveness towards him made her more than just a cliché.

What didn’t work as well for me was in the ménage relationship between the three men.  As couples they did work.  Vance and Simon have a history together before the start of the book, and the way that both Vance and Chris and then Simon and Chris are drawn to each other was realistically done.  However, there is too little page time when the three men are together in the same room and I felt that in order for me to believe that they will work as a three I needed to see more than one short scene at the end of the book.  There is a loose end left at the end of the book, and I wonder whether the author intends to write a sequel.  If this is the case then I may feel happier about the ménage relationship after seeing the three men settle into it, but for now I wasn’t convinced by the romance at the end.

Overall, I enjoyed reading In Darkness Bound.  The setting was unsettling but also compelling and I raced through the book to find out what was going to happen.  The relationship dynamics between the couples, rather than as a three, was a mixture of smoking hot sexual tension and also a tenderness which counteracted some of the brutality of the setting.  I would recommend this book to all those who like Urban Fantasy and who want to read a well written, character based book with an unusual setting.

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