Inside Darkness, by Hudson Lin
Series: In My Own Skin
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.
After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.
Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.
Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.
Self Identity Issues
Hudson Lin is a new author to me, leaving me with no real idea how I’d like her writing, which meant I had little to no idea about Inside Darkness, save the blurb. So diving in, not sure what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised. Still, I’ve struggled with now to rate this book.
Inside Darkness is a rough story about Cam and Ty. Cam, an aid worker with the UN who has a lot of “field-cred”, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. And Ty, an investigative reporter who has been working to get his field-cred, hoping it will propel him further in his career. Both men– very different, both from very differing lives– meet in an African country but continue to cross paths when they’re both back in NYC. The roughness of the story for me was that it was pretty dark and gritty. It almost isn’t a romance, at least not for me, if only because all the romantic situations were not romantic at all but felt like a desperate need for connection. No, Inside Darkness felt more like a discovery about Cam and Ty’s issues, how to recognize them, how to ask for help, and how to heal… or to attempt to heal.
To say that I enjoyed reading this seems like the wrong thing to say. Cam’s story specifically was so difficult to read. I felt nothing but sorrow for him and what he goes through. The path to all the field cred he has was riddled with tragedy, so when he has a panic attack, when that darkness comes to try and smother him, when something would trigger his memories, or his nightmares would not let him sleep, it wasn’t happy reading. Add-in Ty’s issues of work place racism, identity issues, and his closed off heart, it was even harder to get through. The thing is, this book is written well, and the story is told so honestly, nothing glossed over at all, that I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it.
I do wish that the story focused more on Ty… I feel like his story was not fully developed and it left me wishing for more, maybe a bit more balance. He’s got a lot to deal with when it comes to Cam, and that takes much of his part of the story. But he also has the work issues, what I felt were some real issues about his heritage and remembering about is life as a child, coming to terms with his mothers death… there was a lot of potential there that could have been more fully developed. I think it’s not even page time, or POV time that is my issue, but perhaps just my need to have Ty’s own story more flushed out and brought to the forefront. I felt like he had things going on and nobody was there for him. Nobody was helping him through any of it because everyone was there for Cam. I also felt that the ending was a little abrupt and that kind of bummed me out bit.
While there is very little happiness happening throughout the book, and I mean VERY LITTLE, I appreciated the authors attempt at bringing to light issues of depression, PTSD, and how life as an aid worker for the UN could be very difficult without a good support system. And even then, it’s still a hard road to walk. I liked both characters very much, but I really liked Ty best. His ability to be there for Cam, to work at understanding him, to open his heart up when he didn’t want to, and his determination to not let Cam push him away no matter how much of a jerk he was, made Ty the star of this book for me.
In the end, I was glad when I was finally finished with this but I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in a gritty and difficult read. Sometimes these are the best reads at the right time.
Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with ofttimes conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.
Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.
When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the 9 to 5 in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.