Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: Touched by Darkness by Catherine Spangler

Surprise: it's a double book review day! Two great books, but definitely at different points on the romance spectrum... with Patricia Kiyono's Christmas Wishes, we had sweetness and light. In Catherine Spangler's Touched by Darkness, the first in the Sentinel Series, we have edgy, dark and sensual. If you like a little paranormal with your romance, this one will give you all kinds of good shivers.

Book: Touched by Darkness
Author: Catherine Spangler
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating:  [  [  [    (4 out of 5 hearts!)



About the Book: 
After seven years on the run, Dr. Kara Cantrell thought she and her son, Alex, were safe. She was wrong.

Kara settled in the sleepy town of Zorro, Texas, convinced she and her child had escaped the sinister reach of a supernatural underworld. But now dark forces may jeopardize her new life. Her only hope is Damien Morgan, a dangerous, alluring man with superhuman abilities. He and Kara share a mystical link that triggers desires they must ignore. But as they work together to protect her son, and to track the evil stalking them, something threatens to push them toward the edge, to reach out with the touch . . . of darkness.

My Thoughts:
I read all sorts of books, but until a chance conversation with Catherine Spangler on Twitter, I had never read a paranormal romance. Well, besides the Twilight series, but everybody read those, so they don't really count. Catherine offered up the names of several of her favorite paranormal authors, never once touting her own books, which made me curious. What were her Catherine's books like? So I expressed an interest, and next thing you know, I received a copy of Touched by Darkness in the mail. Not to review, but as a gift, with a sweet, signed note! Then I read the book, loved it, and decided to share it.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, from the back cover copy, I didn't detect any sparkly vampires, and felt a little of out of my depth. So I just jumped in. Thankfully, there was an interesting glossary at the beginning that explained what a Sentinel was, among other things, and then a prelude that briefly established the world I'd be reading about, so I felt a little more sure-footed.

In the first chapter, I met Kara and her son, Alex, a precocious 6 year-old who has some special abilities. The same special abilities that Kara's husband had, that led to his murder seven years before. So calling Kara an overprotective mom would be pretty accurate, but she's not just protecting her son from normal bad things. She's trying to keep him from being detected by the Belians, murderous demons who could look like anyone: friends, neighbors, loved ones, or any familar face in town. I personally have two little boys and this setup hit a chord with me--I got Kara. Paranormal happenings or not, here was a gal I could identify with. Her main focus was to protect her boy at any cost. I was hooked.

That hook didn't loosen any as the book progressed, but the tension sure ratcheted up. Along comes Damien, a mysterious and sexy stranger who, Kara can tell with her own set of abilities, is focused on her son. He turns out to be on the side of the good guys, but the battle of wills between the two is immediate and intense. He's a Sentinel--an otherworldly tracker of the Belians Kara fears. And she's a Conductor. The good news is, a Conductor and a Sentinel can match up to track Belians a lot more effectively. The bad news, in Kara's opinion anyway, is that for best results, they need to have sex.

When I read that, I was intrigued, of course. What a premise! But the curiosity came from more of a writer's standpoint. At its heart, a romance is all about... well, the heart. How does that work when the protagonists have to do it? Like, for the good of the world. Is it cold and clinical? Where's the romance? Well, I won't give anything away, but the steamy scenes were far from cold and the heart was definitely still there.

I enjoyed Touched by Darkness from beginning to end. It was a fantastic introduction to the world of paranormal romance: dark and hot, with a high-tension plot full of jolts and twists. The Belials, the bad guys, were completely successful in creeping me out, but even with all of the external conflict, Touched by Darkness was, where it counted, a romance. Kara and Damian's relationship shone through and carried the book to the end.

Thank you, Catherine Spangler, for gifting me with your book, and I can't wait to read the rest of the Sentinel Series.

About the Author:
Catherine Spangler is a national bestselling and award winning author of the Sentinel series (urban fantasy romance) and the Shielder series (science fiction romance). She is a two-time Golden Heart finalist and a RITA finalist and has received numerous other awards and honorable mentions.

She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, Dallas Area Romance Authors. A frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences, she has taught workshops on the creative process, writing techniques, writing paranormal romance, and goal setting.

Catherine lives in north Texas with her husband and a menagerie of critters. She loves reading, taking naps on the sofa with a good football game for background noise, eating chocolate, and playing poker.

Her fun fact: I celebrated the sale of my first book, Shielder, by drinking champagne from a plastic cowboy boot mug. My critique partners brought four of them to my house, along with the champagne. Drinking champagne from those cowboy boot mugs every time one of us sold a book became a tradition, which we still honor.

Connect with Catherine Spangler (and wish her a happy birthday, today!)

Buy the Book:
The Sentinel books are now available on Amazon. Get them here:
Touched by Darkness
Touched by Fire

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of Touched by Darkness as a gift. The fair and impartial review was my idea! :)