Expected Release Date: October 1, 2011 (Available Now!)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Avon Impulse
Author’s Website: http://kckleinbooks.com/
My Source for This Book: Gift from the author
Part of a Series: Possibly*
Series Best Read In Order: N/A
Steam Level: Steamy

Official Blurb:

Awakened in the middle of the night by a future version of herself, Kris Davenport is given a mission; go forward in time to save the world and his life. Of course, her future self doesn’t tell her who he is, just sends her into the abyss and straight into an alien invasion.

He turns out to be ConRad Smith, the callous, untrusting Commander of Earth’s army and the world’s last defense. There’s only one way to know for sure if this strange woman is an alien spy, slice her throat. Except, he didn’t anticipate the heat he would feel as he interrogates the hot-tempered, warm-blooded woman. For a man whose sole focus has been survival, she’s more temptation than he can handle. But a world on the brink of destruction leaves no room for love;and time is running out.

What Worked For Me:

  • I loved the “Terminator” vibe with the whole gritty post-apocalyptic end-of-the-world-and-average-jane-has-to-learn-to-survive feel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nowhere near the same story in any way, shape, or form, but I think fans of one will greatly enjoy the other.
  • ConRad. Guh.  ConRad was a truly tortured character. He’s not the alpha male who goes all squishy for the heroine, but instead is a true survivor — he makes tough decisions every single day, including knowing when to cut his losses even at the expense of an individual.  He’s tragic, he’s heartbreaking, he’s brutal, and he’s delicious. 
  • I really enjoyed Kris’ transformation for slightly spoiled, prissy, snarky medical intern to kick-ass survivalist.
  • Believe it or not, I liked the torture scenes. Call it schadenfreude, but there’s just something so incredibly intense about seeing a character taken to the brink of brokenness and watching them recover that I just can’t get enough of.
  • The few love scenes were completely delectable.  The hopelessness of the situations and the desperation crackling between them made their first experience so wonderfully intense, and then later, well, later the sweetness melded beautifully with the fierceness of the situation.
  • I loved the heartbreak of Kris’ decision in regards to how to “break the cycle” that they were stuck in. It was beautifully, wonderfully tragic and painful and I adored it.
  • The phone call. My blood literally ran cold at that moment, and I loved it.
  • The origin of the prophecy was a fantastic twist.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  •  There were a few minor issues with the worldbuilding, such as why were there no aliens immediately around Sanctuary, why there wasn’t greater mention of paradoxes as a result of the time travel, or why exactly were the aliens so fascinated by human women?
  • I was a little frustrated with how quickly it seemed that Kris “got over” all that torture, at least from an emotional standpoint. She seemed to be more emotionally traumatized by her mother’s suicide when she was a child than the fact she’d been savagely beaten, carved by knives, burned, whipped and endured pretty much every other form of physical torture for weeks on end.  Yes, sure, she flinched away from ConRad for a while afterwards, but her recovery and their reconciliation came just a wee bit too quickly for my tastes.

Dark, gritty, and utterly entrancing, this book absolutely blew my socks off.

Let me backtrack for just a moment.  To be perfectly honest, things got off to a bit of a slow start for me.   The first three chapters had me a bit wary — Kris, with her perfect manicure, carefully tamed and colored curly hair, cartoon-character panties, and rather cowardly attitude seemed far too weak to be a heroine of any sort of post-apocalyptic, futuristic story, and to be honest, my assessment was correct. That Kris absolutely was too weak to be a heroine.

However, Chapter Four is where the book really starts to shine, when Kris is catapulted into a world of pain, fear, tough decisions, and horrible sacrifices.   Completely out of her element, she does what any modern day woman would do — she flounders, badly.  Stubborn, angry, frightened, indignant, mouthy, and impulsive, she is quite literally her own worst enemy in a world that she neither belongs in nor understands.

Her relationship with ConRad gets off to what is quite possibly the rockiest of starts imaginable — thinking she’s an alien spy, he’s fully prepared to torture her for information, and makes no qualms about threatening her, physically hurting hurt, and doing whatever else may be necessary to coerce her into telling him the truth. He can’t believe she could possibly be from the past, and even if she is, she’s a danger to everyone in the compound. ConRad is a hardened warrior who has lived his entire life making tough decisions and sacrifices for the greater good of both their compound and of mankind in its entirety.  He’s tough. He’s brutal in his decision-making. He’s unapologetically in charge and not afraid to use his authority as he sees fit, even when it tramples on the rights of others.

And I adored him.

This book is dark. It’s bloody. It’s violent. All of the characters, not just the main protagonists, are put through literal hell more times than I can count. And yet out of that darkness bloomed an absolutely gorgeous love story against seemingly impossible odds. Both ConRad and Kris have had quite a bit of trauma in their pasts, and throwing in her tendency to lie to him, and his utterly devastating betrayal of her, and it truly seemed as if these two characters never had a chance.  Yet, I believed in their romance.  Two lost souls, surrounded by unspeakable horror, finding solace in each other? Utterly and absolutely delicious. 

Yes, this book had a few minor issues.  There were some unanswered questions in the world-building, only a fly-by mention of why there weren’t a ton of paradoxes created by the time travel, and at one point I found it very hard to believe that Kris had emotionally recovered so quickly from what was a truly horrible betrayal and some of the most brutal torture I’ve ever read about in a romance.  But you know what? I don’t care. Even with all of those things, I loved this book so much I want to marry it and have its babies (if, you know, I weren’t married already, and it weren’t both illegal and creepy to marry a book), and I am desperately hoping I am able to get my hands on more of this author’s writings in the future.

A very raw 5/5 Stars

*There is a sci-fi novella planned for February release based in the same world but with different characters.  Details have not yet been worked out as to whether or not there will be an actual sequel to Dark Future (but oh how I hope so!).