Review: Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin


Note: An advanced reader copy (ARC) was provided by Riptide Publishing.

He took a deep breath and then let it out. In his mind, he reached out to the darkness, only to snatch his figurative hand back. The darkness was easy, familiar, comfortable. But going there aroused as much fear as it did relief. How much longer could he wallow in the oblivion it offered?

With a rawness that has become such a rarity in the world of romantic fiction, Hudson Lin's debut novel has a main character whose life is mired in the murkiness of post-traumatic stress but begins to find a sliver of light when he opens himself to the possibilities of love and self-acceptance. Inside Darkness isn't a mushy, touchy-feely kind of love story; this has darker themes to it, most notably PTSD, homophobia, and race issues.That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't any romance whatsoever to be found here. There is, but if you're expecting hearts and flowers and grand gestures and sweet declarations, I suggest you set those expectations aside, and simply open yourself up to the opportunity of reading an honest-to-goodness well-crafted bit of fiction that touches upon some very real-life subject matters that demand more attention and comprehension.

Having already been an aid worker with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for a decade, Cameron Donnelly is what would be considered a lifer. However, the past few years have taken their toll on him. Cam has seen and experienced things that have resulted in a darkness that he can't seem to shake. He's put in a request for a transfer to the UNHCR's New York office even though he's one of the best for field work. One of his last duties before flying back involves accommodating a broadcast journalist named Tyler Ang, and while Cam isn't looking forward to having to babysit Ty, he knows the exposure will do the plight of the Kenyan refugees some good. What he isn't prepared for, however, is the mutual attraction they share. When their paths continue to cross even in the US, getting together seems to be inevitable. Cam is broken and Ty has never been the type to settle down, yet these two can't seem to avoid falling for each other. But when career choices and a life-threatening accident make a relationship seem impossible, can they persevere through life's dark episodes?

Cam and Ty are undeniably flawed human beings yet there's something about them that made it easy for me to empathize with them and their respective and joint circumstances. Maybe it was all those moments of vulnerability and honesty and how these two struggled to get past whatever was thrown their way that endeared them to me. These two had a story to tell, and Hudson Lin did as close to an impeccable job writing it. From the dust and dire circumstances that surrounded them while in Kenya to the hustle and bustle of New York, there was always that darkness that seemed to haunt Cam and a restlessness that dogged Ty, but Lin never made their situation feel hopeless. I know the author was part of an anthology a few months ago, has a few free reads, and has a novella coming soon, and while I rushed to add all of those on my to-be-read list as soon as I finished reading her full-length, my adoration is focused on Inside Darkness (for now). Five-plus stars. ♥

Date Read: 10 June 2018

Learn more about Hudson Lin.

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