DARK DESCENT INTO DESIRE
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (5/2020)
“Dark Descent into Desire”, by J.J. Sorel, is aptly titled. There is a dark descent into desire here, and the author is the one to take you there.
This isn’t your average billionaire romance story, and to call it chick lit would be a gross disservice, although there are some chick lit passages and phrases. One might be tempted to search for similarities that echo “50 Shades of Grey,” but “Dark Descent into Desire” is deeper and richer, thanks to Sorel’s wording and character-building skills. The characters are credible and seem fully fleshed-out; not just caricatures tossed into a Gothic romance salad. Penny and Blake are people you could know in your own life, and live with issues that you can relate to–a parent with substance use issues? Co-dependency? Dysfunction? Secrets? A yearning to escape and be loved?
But besides the interesting elements of the characters, the novel uses multi-faceted plot lines that are solid enough, but–and here goes my slight criticism–there are a couple of scenes that are borderline creepy and violent, but I won’t give spoilers here. Rather than the explicit sex scenes, I found myself more interested in how Blake and Penny slowly reveal themselves and their secrets to each other, and the thread of addiction in all its forms running through the fabric of the story. These frank scenes take nothing from Sorel’s wonderful writing, however, and the build of the couple’s relationship is suspenseful, the payoff well-earned.
The starving-artist-meets-damaged-billionaire aspect is appealing in its own right. After all, opposites do attract, and create conflict and drama, sometimes with devastating results. But it’s the way Sorel writes the story that keeps the reader invested. She has a poet’s way with words, a classical approach to language while using modern phrasing and situations, with stiletto attention to details and descriptions. Penny and Blake are so realized that you want to read more about them, and you aren’t happy that the story has to end, even though it must. It’s easy to get lost in this story. And isn’t that what a good romance should be about?
If you think you aren’t a fan of Gothic romance, you’ve been reading the wrong books for too long. Give “Dark Descent into Desire” a chance, and you will discover a new twist on an old genre hidden between the covers.