Review: As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry

Publisher: Hachette Livre Australia, Piatkus Books.
Where did you get this book: Review copy from author.
Release Date: Out now.

This review contains some spoilers.

Blurb taken from author’s official website:

Haunted by her failures, Detective Isabelle O’Connell is recalled to duty by DCI Alec Goddard to investigate the abduction of yet another child from her home town. They have only days to find the girl alive, with few clues, a town full of suspects, and a vast wilderness to search. It soon becomes a game of cat and mouse, with Bella firmly in the killer’s sights.

For Bella, this case is already personal; for Alec, his best intentions to keep it purely professional soon dissolve, and his anguish over Bella’s safety moves beyond the concern for a colleague.

Their mutual attraction leaves them both vulnerable to their private nightmares – nightmares the killer ruthlessly exploits.

As Darkness Falls by Bronwyn Parry is a very strong romantic suspense that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I loved the setting of the Australian outback. It felt very authentic and it was a living part of the story. After reading this book, it’s made me realise that I haven’t posted a review of a romantic suspense book on the blog. And I will endeavour to do more in the future!

As Darkness Falls has a strong suspense/police procedural storyline that’s tempered with a lot of emotion from the heroine of the book. Detective Isabelle O’Connell has a lot of emotional and physical scars that she carries with her. Last year, a young girl was killed by a child abductor in her home town. Bella was working on the case, and in the end, the police had no solid proof or evidence of who the killer was – except for one man. Bella was convinced that the man was innocent, and all they had was insubstantial evidence pointing towards him. But the locals in the town wanted and needed someone to blame. While protecting this man, Bella ended up getting caught in the middle, and was viciously attacked by the angry baying mob who were hell bent on inflicting vigilante justice on the suspected killer. After the attack, Bella moved away from the town, her trust in humans broken and her failure to save the little girl sitting heavily on her heart. This book doesn’t shy away from what people are capable of; people whom Bella had known all of her life.

Bella made for a great heroine, one who’s very much damaged but extremely brave. She holds her cards and emotions very close to her chest. When another child is abducted in her hometown, Bella is called back by DCI Alec Goddard – who is newly assigned to the case – to help with the investigation. Alec, the hero, was extremely likeable, and I thought he was very different compared to some of the heroes in other romance suspense books. He doesn’t act like a scarred detective – even though he has a scarred past because of his job – who hides his emotions. He’s controlled, yes, but he has a lot empathy for others, and kindness – especially towards Bella, who brings out his protective instincts – and other strong emotions – when they work closer than ever to find the killer. Alec knows he shouldn’t be having these feelings, especially when he’s her superior and when he knows Bella is so emotionally damaged.

Alec is patient with Bella, and never gets irritated or impatient with the distance she keeps from him. Bella slowly, but surely, starts to feel again, and she can’t ignore the feelings Alec brings about inside of her, and she soon has a growing respect for him as a police officer, and as a man. There is a pivotal scene for Bella, between her and Alec, that brings about  a change, where – in her own words – she becomes whole again. Even though Bella is far from fine, it’s a healing moment that was conveyed beautifully.

Some of the scenes are very gritty and Bronwyn Parry doesn’t hide away the horrors of what the killer does. There is something irrevocably evil about child killers, and Parry makes that horror, pain, and heartbreak clear within the book. The writing is so descriptive, especially the town of Dungirri, and it soon starts to feel as if it’s a familiar place – albeit broken, just like the community is. Each secondary character has personality, and they all have their own personal strife within the broken town of Dungirri.

All the way to the end, I was kept guessing who the killer was, and as Alec’s and Bella’s relationship grew, I couldn’t help but fiercely root them, and hope that they wouldn’t let their pasts get in the way of a well deserved HEA, that’s not instant but a promise of the future.

I give As Darkness Falls 4.5 out of 5.

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