Review: Darke Passion by Rosanna Leo (2023)

Darke Paranormal Investigations, Book #1

Heat Factor: There’s some spice

Character Chemistry: They are very communicative about liking each other

Plot: Edwina is hunting for ghosts in Simon’s haunted B&B and finds more than she bargained for

Overall: This one didn’t really work for me

Here’s the backstory. Ingrid read Rosanna Leo’s first trilogy—the Handyman series (reviews here, here, and here) and LOVED it—so I figured I’d give Leo’s new release a try. And I can see why Ingrid likes Leo’s work. The characters in Darke Passion have rich inner lives and are dealing with layers of emotion. Ingrid loves it when authors dig into juicy emotional stuff! I, on the other hand, can take it or leave it, especially if I don’t gel with an author’s voice. And I did not gel with the voice of this book.

The basic premise of this book is that Edwina and her sisters moonlight as ghost hunters. They go to haunted places and take videos of haunted happenings—and then either debunk said haunted happenings as faulty wiring or help people banish the ghosties, as needed. Simon owns a twee B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but things aren’t going well. All sorts of weird things keep happening, and all of the guests have canceled their bookings, so Simon hires the Darke sisters to investigate. (Yes, the ghosties are real, and there’s a big mystery about who they are and why they’re haunting the B&B. One is even malevolent, which always makes for a good time. There’s also a lot of Canadian history stuff for the nerds out there.)

This is a cool set-up, and it should have been an edge-of-my-seat read, but I was kind of bored through the first half. There wasn’t a lot of tension, either with the ghost plot or between Simon and Edwina. Things did pick up in the second half of the book, once Simon and Edwina got over their whole “I’m not sure if I should go for it” thing.

I think my main problem was that the conflicts between Simon and Edwina did not feel organic. For example, there’s a scene early on where Edwina asks Simon a pretty personal question about his family, and he changes the subject. Edwina sees this as a red flag—even though they literally just met and do not have this kind of relationship (yet). It was just a line in the sand that Edwina drew that didn’t really make sense in the larger context. The ultimatum that Edwina made for herself (any more deflecting on Simon’s part and she was done) was explained by her having an ex who would gaslight her, but this wasn’t a central part of her character, nor was it fully developed. It was more a signal to the reader of the kind of self-care that the ethos of the book advocates. And I am all for setting boundaries for self-care in real life, but I prefer the characters I read to be less self-aware and more messy.

With that said, once Simon and Edwina started working as a team, I started enjoying myself more. There’s not a ton of angst in the latter half of the book—they have to figure out how to deal with Simon’s toxic family and the ghosts and their long-distance relationship, but they do so by supporting each other and communicating. #RelationshipGoals.

In all honestly, I think most of what I’ve flagged here were me-problems, rather than book problems. I’m going to chalk this one up to it not being the right fit for me.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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