It's rare that a book gets rated a Top Pick Gold, the highest possible RT BOOK REVIEWS rating. So we knew that Elizabeth Jenning's Darkness at Dawn was an extremely special story. Today Jennings gives readers an insider look at the Lucy Merrit, the heroine who must overcome the ghosts of her past in this thrilling romantic suspense.
The heroine of Darkness at Dawn, Lucy Merritt, is a manuscript restorer. I gave her this job on purpose.
I spent most of my formative years in Florence, Italy. Florence is not only a spectacularly beautiful city but it is a city uniquely dedicated to art. UNESCO estimates that half of humanity’s art works are in Italy, and half of those in Florence. Think of it—one relatively small city containing a quarter of humanity’s art output!
Of course much of the artwork is old and fragile, so one of the major industries in Florence is art restoration. Many of my friends were art restorers and my mother worked at an American graduate school of fine arts specializing in restoration.
The heart of an art restoration expert is an artistic one. They must have exquisitely-honed manual skills and deep scientific knowledge. Their job is important because they know they have the beating heart of humanity in their hands. Where would we be without the major art works of our past? We’d be barbarians.
Lucy Merritt’s parents were CIA operatives posing as cultural anthropologists—they traveled to the world’s hotspots with a cover as scholars. Lucy’s childhood was spent following her parents around to dangerous places where her parents did dangerous things and where a wrong word could blow their cover and jeopardize their lives. She watched her parents die in a blazing gunfight in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nhala when she was fourteen.
No wonder she prefers the quiet life of an art restorer. Her job fulfils her on several levels and her life is tailored to fit her psychological need to have a safe and controlled environment because her childhood was anything but.
Darkness at Dawn is essentially a quest. A woman digging deep and finding her courage.
At first, Lucy refuses when the CIA calls her to infiltrate Nhala once more because there is a dangerous threat to the world—a deathly virus that, if unleashed, could cause millions of deaths.
But Lucy is the very definition of a brave person—one who can overcome her fears—and she accepts.
The hero, Mike Shafer, of the Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division doesn’t shy from danger in any way. The 10th forges its men from steel and then makes them harder. No, Mike’s problem is accepting that all his expertise and courage and fighting skills make no difference in the cat and mouse game of international intrigue, where Lucy shines. And by the time his skills do come into play, carrying a grievously wounded Lucy through a snowstorm, he is head over heels in love with the bravest woman he’s ever met.
Because the thing is, Lucy does something amazingly, outrageously courageous. Something very few people would have the courage to do, knowing full well the consequences.
So, dear reader, if love and danger and adventure and just a little hot sex entice you, you might want to give Darkness at Dawn a try!
- Elizabeth Jennings