Review: Darkness Before Dawn (#2, Darkness) and Epilogue (#2.5, Darkness) by Claire Contreras

My Thoughts

A unique and captivating story of intricately woven deceit.
Suspense, romance, action… this book packs a punch.
I couldn’t put it down.

4halfstars

Synopsis

darkness before dawnIs love ever enough?
Faced with obstacles she could have never imagined, Blake is brought to darkness and back by forces in her past she never knew existed.

Desperate to stay connected to the only thing he loves, Cole is forced to revisit his past and align himself with the people who knew about Blake’s disappearance.
Separation has forced both Blake and Cole to learn how to live under the worst circumstances, each of them alone in their own hell.

When they reunite, can they be the same two people they were before darkness swept upon them?
Told in separate points of view, Darkness Before Dawn is the continuation of Blake and Cole’s fight to make it to the light.

My Review

“Blake, your past is my past, your present is my present and your future is my future. I bear the weight of everything that happens in your life.”

Ok, so WOW. Coming off book 1, my heart is racing and I cannot believe Blake has been kidnapped. This book kicks off with Blake. She’s been beaten down emotionally and physically and has no sense of how long she’s been kidnapped. Her only solace is thinking about Cole.

“I close my eyes and think of my rock during these hours, days, months, years. His bright green eyes, crooked smile, dimple, and messy hair. His protective arms and everything they offer me when I need it most. My eyes begin to burn with unshed tears, and for a moment I find my zen because in that moment I’m with Cole.”

Meanwhile, my heart broke for Cole, he was a shell of a person living without Blake, not knowing where she is and feeling partly responsible for her disappearance.

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During her time in captivity, Blake learns a little more about her past and forges an unlikely friendship with one of her captors who helps her. Finally, once Blake is out, as happy as she is to see Cole, there is so much that happens that their relationship becomes strained. Blake struggles with bringing those she loves in danger, just by association, while Cole struggles with not being there (physically) for Blake due to traveling for his job. Blake is also left reeling. With so many secrets already revealed and so many more secrets to uncover, it’s tough for her to find solid ground.

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I felt so bad for Blake… she’s had so much tragedy and she’s right smack in the middle of what seems to be layers upon layers of secrets and lies. To top it all off, you have so many people in the mix, each with their own intentions and agendas that it all starts to get a bit confusing, not only for Blake and Cole, but for me as the reader!

“Can someone get a pen and paper and start drawing out the family trees and everyone’s connection to everyone else?”

(Note – I thought that Claire including this line in the book was brilliant… I was at the point that I wanted to scream…”Wait, WHAT?! WHO?!” … and she totally communicated directly to us, the readers, through that line.)

And just wait… you think there are secrets in book 1, you ain’t seen nothing yet!!! What I loved, however, is that Blake was DONE with being the victim. She was ready to learn the truth and start working on figuring a way out of this mess.

“I couldn’t go back to living a shadow of a life, without knowing with certainty who my family was and who they were involved with.”

In addition, geeeeezzzz… if you fell in love with Cole Murphy before, you’ll fall deeper and deeper with him in this book. Even though there is a lot more strain and tension between them, the love that Cole feels for Blake is even more evident. As Blake tries to shut him out, he refuses to let her do that. He’s adamant that there is no one else in the world that matters than the two of them and that they irrefutably belong together. There were so many moments I totally melted at the words coming from this man!

“No, I was not involved with Blake. You are not just involved with the person that causes your world to make sense. You live for that person. You breathe for that person. So no, involved, is not the word I would use to describe my relationship with Blake. Blake is everything to me. She’s not somebody I’m involved with, she is my reason, my everything.”

Ultimately, this book was largely about piecing the mystery together and also, really having Blake realize that there is no future without Cole. Cole and her, along with their friends are a family. A very real family, and based on everything they uncover (the lies, the deceit), what they are to each other is the only thing that really counts.

And the Epilogue… it was freaking perfect! I was really glad Claire Contreras wrote it, because I felt like I needed it after Darkness Before Dawn ended. It gave me the closure I wanted and left me feeling sated and happy! (After you are done with book 2, you can read the Epilogue here).

What I loved most about this series was the uniqueness of the storyline, the well-developed characters of Cole and Blake and the group of friends/family they all were. Even though I did feel caught up at times with all the people and the secrets and the lies, these books are fabulous and definitely worth the read! I am definitely a fan of Claire Contreras!

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