Check out our newest review of another selection from our Queen of Steam, Sarah Bailey!
Our Darkest Path by Sarah Bailey is the second entry in the interconnected standalone “Our Darkest” series of dark romance novels. You could possibly consider it “stand-alone”, meaning that you can enjoy each book without being invested in the series…however, the characters, themes, and story lines will be recognizable from other books in the series AND the greater depths of the Sarah Bailey universe. Meredith Pope is an 18 year old girl nearing her graduation in what we sloppy Americans would call high school. She’s smart, creative, uniquely pretty, and a bit brash until you get to know her. Two years younger than her is Cole Carter, son of a prominent member of the Syndicate family and an all-around cocky shit. Growing up in a unique family, Cole has learned to think mostly for himself and he knows one thing more than anything else…. that Meredith will be his.
This novel is….long. Broken into four parts, the story examines the roller coaster ride of a relationship between two people, and how love alone is hardly ever enough to keep a romantic prospect together for a lifetime. A unique theme explored is the notion that definitions of a happily ever after will change over time. What may start as an age gap concern can be healed with time…but what about family loyalty? A family can evolve and grow and learn to love all the same…but what of a dark history coming back to haunt them? We can run away from our problems…but what can we do to secure the future?
While there’s no requirement to have ever read a Sarah Bailey book to enjoy Our Darkest Path, long time readers of her work will be handsomely rewarded with not only new content on old characters, but some new themes as well. Cole comes from a unique family, with essentially four father figures, a mother, and several siblings housed under one roof. Bringing friends or any love interests into this family would be difficult to say the least, especially with the baggage of their dark past. Meredith and Cole learn to eventually work as a couple due to their need to be with each other, knowing that they could never really love anyone else even if they wanted to. We get to see Meredith struggle with the loss of a relationship twice, and sharing that pain among the protagonists from Book one of this series. We didn’t know much about Meredith’s problems in the first book, as at the time she was seemingly a background character to Rhys’ personal issues in his pursuit of romance. We (as the reader) see Meredith crying and miserable around the happy ending of the last novel, something we were previously blissfully unaware of. This is a powerful example of how we in the real world like to think of ourselves as the main character in our own story. It’s important to consider those around us, and carefully remember that our moments of happiness won’t also magically solve the problems of those we love and care about.
Verdict: Our Darkest Path by Sarah Bailey is another strong dark romance novel that digs even deeper into an already vast literature universe. Dark elements are referred to, but for the most part this story is about young love being challenged, succeeding, getting challenged again, and the hard facts that can keep a couple from lasting happiness. The story gets very dark towards the end, but the fact that 3/4ths of the novel didn’t have much of this makes the climax that much more of a proper event. What steals the show to this reviewer however is the eventual rejection of these dark themes by the characters themselves. Nothing from anyone’s past is questioned nor regretted, but there’s a loving and tactful expression by the love interests that the next generation of an infamous family needs to be set and held to a clearer moral code. There’s no fear of an end to the darkness inside this universe I’ve come to know so well however, as this novel has reminded us that we’re only the protagonists of our own narrow recital.