Series: Dark Falls #10
Published by Trish McCallan Inc on March 9th 2020
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When secrets and lies collide…lives are lost and hearts are broken…
After a midnight encounter with a powerful, manipulative sociopath, Detective Marisol Zaragoza is catapulted into the most treacherous case of her fledgling career. And from there, into the path of the gorgeous, enigmatic billionaire who’d shattered her life and ripped her heart to shreds ten years earlier.
She’d fallen for Beck Gatling’s suave charm once. Dios mío… Never again.
But as her investigation disintegrates and a killer teeters on the cusp of freedom, Mari is drawn back into her ex-love’s orbit. Soon, the edges between the past and the present blur and her career and heart are on a collision course.
My rating stands only because the book itself as a whole, was an engrossing one, more so if I don’t try to stop every time to scoff at a romance that could have woven with stronger chains of steel.
A second-chance romance is one that’s always something that I tread cautiously with, after all. ‘Dark Tidings’ sat in the grey area for me, while Trish McCallan’s great writing carried the story through. It’s in some ways, a good, old-fashioned thriller that follows the downward trajectory of a well-respected judge—one thing leading to another in a dangerous spiral that’s like a train wreck you can see coming in the distance—with a side-plot of 2 ex-es meeting again after 10 long years.
As an RS, crime-thriller, ‘Dark Tidings’ was decent, hysterical even, when push came to shove. Romance-wise, Beck Gatling’s instalove reunion with Marisol Zaragoza happened way too quickly to be remotely believable, hinged as it was on some good memories of ten years ago and the desperate realisation that they really loved each other still just after tumbling onto the bed and a few interactive meetings—despite the unforgivable mess Beck made of their past.
Just like that, they’re back together…and all is (way too quickly) well.
But this was where I started to run into problems as my head-meta went into overdrive. I’m trying my best not to turn this into a ranty piece about white, privileged and wealthy men of great influence who strut around centre-stage with feather preened, but it’s undeniable that we’ve got one too many here. It did leave a sour taste, particularly when these male characters that McCallan wrote about—Beck Gatling included—flouted authority because they knew they were entitled to use whatever means or power they had on their side, doing things the way they wished because they knew their words and coin went far, then playing the victim when it suited them to bridge whatever gap was left that they were slipping into.
When such traits apply to a villain—a reader could be more forgiving. Perhaps. It’s after all, some systemic prejudice that the media loves to hype up and its filtration down the hollow tubes of social media and fiction (and by extension, to the users and readers) seems inevitable, whether it’s justified or not.
But when these surfaced as well in the male protagonist—a character I’m supposed to root for and like—, ‘Dark Tidings’ started to become problematic for me. That Beck come on the scene early on, tried to emotionally manipulate (or even bully) his way into Marisol’s good graces with barely a sincere attempt to make up for what he did years ago, then called it a measure of love that never stopped?
Colour me unimpressed, cynical and disbelieving, because it didn’t take much work at all, more so that this was coupled with the expectation that Marisol would easily capitulate to his demands and his sudden emotional availability. That he’d also tried to override her law enforcement authority towards the end, thus putting her in a conflicted place where her personal and professional spheres collided made me think even less of him.
Marisol Zaragoza in contrast, stood like a shining light of blunt authority, who seemed to have her capabilities pushed to the brink because of her duties, her profession and her personal feelings. I liked her for her ability to stand strong, right up until the point she started to question her own folly for not pandering to Beck’s wilful actions and the pressure he seemed to pile on her for not feeling the same way he did. In essence, I wanted to see Beck work harder, but didn’t even get a whiff of it by the time the story ended, aided in part by Marisol’s own rushed admission of love.
I was left sighing in disappointment as a result—not just because there are still male characters who don’t give their ‘heroines’ the respect in all its forms that they deserve (whether it’s a consequence of white privilege or not) but that because I simply thought that Marisol deserved better.