Review: “Dark Stranger: The Dream,” I.T. Lucas

Pros: Good chemistry between the leads
Cons: Too many other problems
Rating: 1 out of 5

I.T. Lucas brings us Dark Stranger The Dream (The Children Of The Gods Paranormal Romance Series Book 1), in which student Syssi has premonitions that come true. She’s had a premonition that the professor she works for, Amanda, will experience some sort of life-changing event. Meanwhile, she keeps having dreams in which she’s fleeing wolves, only to come face-to-face with a devastatingly sexy man. That man is Amanda’s brother, Kian. Just to make things complicated, Amanda and Kian are the immortal children of a living goddess, and the members of their “clan” have other immortal enemies. The only immortals on earth are from those two lines, so the best the immortals can hope for is quick trysts with humans, rather than lasting relationships. But Amanda’s convinced Syssi is a Dormant, blessed with some other goddess’s genes, meaning that if Kian could “activate” her (by sleeping with her, naturally), she could become immortal as well. Unfortunately, while the clan has successfully hidden among mortals for centuries, they’ve just been found by their enemies. Since the immortal genes can only be passed on matrilineally, their enemies are desperate to find and capture the clan’s women.

Apart from Syssi’s premonition regarding Amanda, her abilities don’t really come into play, which makes them seem sort of irrelevant. Especially as that particular premonition doesn’t seem to have much to do with the story in the first volume. Amanda’s research has to do with people who have paranormal gifts, but we don’t get into it much in here. I would have liked more detail since this is something so important to her.

It’s hard to believe any of these characters are hundreds–in some cases thousands–of years old. I mean, they don’t have to sound like they’re from the Victorian era or anything, but none of them sounds older than about 25. The narrative is also written in a very young-sounding manner, which again undermines any sense of age to the characters or clans. Also, they’re repeatedly described as predatory, which makes their moralistic stance on veganism a bit weird.

The narrative describes someone’s favored fight tactics instead of oh, say, showing them in a fight, even though the character got into a fight earlier in the book. Much less interesting.

Of course the guy with a dark complexion and long black hair has light blue eyes, because for some reason people seem to fetishize taking people who aren’t white and giving them blue eyes.

There are seven biomechanical wonders that look human and can even change their apparent gender, but apparently they’re rarely used for more than playing butler (making brunch seems to be a favored pastime). You’d think some sort of stunning god-tech creature would be more useful than that.

The bad guys are known as the Devout Order of Mortdh Brotherhood, or DOOM; otherwise called “Doomers”. I snickered. That’s right out of a comic book. Naturally they specialize in abduction and rape. And when they take women, they give them a choice between serving as manual labor (maids, etc.) or prostitutes: “[G]iven the choice between manual work and prostitution, most opted to work on their backs.” So the author’s position seems to be that women are so lazy they’d prefer to be raped rather than work? You know, I was going to give this book a 2/5 because the leads have great sexual chemistry, but I refuse to give anything greater than a 1 to a book that makes this implication. Since her Amazon bio indicates the author is female, I guess we’ll have to blame this one on internalized misogyny.

Kian goes back and forth on whether he should sleep with Syssi more times than I can count. The two of them are relentlessly drawn to each other, and actually have a lot of chemistry (the best part of the book), but Kian just can’t seem to make up his mind. One moment he’s all sure that she “belonged to him alone,” and then he’s holding her at arm’s length. Sure, his (eventually disclosed) reasons make sense, but it’s overdone. When Kian’s considering Syssi’s naivete, he feels the need to think about how the kind of women who want one-night stands (his usual “type”) are “somewhat overripe, often even rotten.” Way to slut-shame, and, ewww. Definitely doesn’t endear either Kian or the author to me. (Sleeping around apparently doesn’t make him an “overripe” slut, though, because godly hormones or something.)

SPOILER WARNING: In an utterly overused trope, the only gay character exists to be quickly killed and mourned. END SPOILERS

Content note for sexual content, very mild dominance/submission, and themes of rape. There’s more I could get into, but at this point it would be beating a dead horse.

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