The Longest Night by Kara Braden are twofold: 1) it's a debut and 2) it got some stellar reviews in the professional library journals I read for work. Plus it's a cabin romance (I love these!) featuring two damaged characters. Sounds intriguing, right? Well, in theory it would have been. Unfortunately the execution failed to engage.
Ian Fairchild is a big shot criminal defense attorney in Manhattan. Then he's in a car accident (during the course of an investigation - a big shot criminal lawyer who still does his own investigating? Ohhhhhhkay), and screws up his back. One thing leads to another and he starts popping pain pills. After his latest stint in rehab his brother, who works for one of those private security firms that run rampant in Romancelandia, says enough is enough. Suitably dried out, he's sending him to the middle of nowhere and away from temptation to finally kick the pills for good.
Former Marine Cecily Knight can't say no to Ian's brother, given that the man saved her life in Afghanistan. Cecily was held captive by insurgents for five days. It's an experience that she's naturally slow to "get over." Now she lives, literally, in the middle of nowhere in the Canadian wilderness. She needs a prop plane to fly to the nearest source of supplies. She has to hunt if she wants to eat meat (and we get several hunting scenes so if you're a tree-hugger consider that your trigger warning). Literally, middle of nowhere. And now she has a house guest - the sexy and distracting Ian. Gee, however will they pass the time?
That's pretty much it. It's internal conflict all the way which is normally something I enjoy. Unfortunately the internal conflict in this story lacks anything remotely resembling urgency. Ian's drug problem reads like a convenient plot device to get him to Canada. Popping ibuprofen like Tic-Tacs in the first few chapters is about as deep as we get here. Really all it takes to make him forget about opiates is to have lots of sex with Cecily and do those exercises his doctors prescribed. Voila! Pain is magically gone! Pill problem? What pill problem?
Cecily has PTSD and, for the most part, I thought the author did an OK job with this until she had to end the book. Unfortunately this is one of those Great Orgasms Cure All stories. She falls in lurve with Ian, wants to be with him, and gee that's enough right there to pack up her life and move to Manhattan. After living in the Canadian wilderness for seven years (!). I'll concede that sex is pretty awesome, but really? She's so screwed up that's she's living in the middle of nowhere and yet "trusting" Ian is enough to get to her to move to MANHATTAN?!?!?!
Sorry, not buying.
There was a lack of fire here. A lack of drive and urgency. Prior to the resolution of the conflict (which obviously didn't work for me) I kept thinking this really should have been a category romance. Unless you're going to really dig deep into the PTSD and addiction issues, the word count really needs to be trimmed considerably. Instead it's filled with either 1) hunting scenes or 2) sex scenes and was a slog for me to get through.
But so many glowing reviews can't all be wrong, right? There's enough on the page here to see promise, and it wasn't a book that made me physically angry. No, it was just boring. I wanted the gut-punch and instead got the whiff.
Final Grade = C-