Reviewed by Christine
TITLE: Darkest Hour Before Dawn
SERIES: THIRDS series #9
AUTHOR: Charlie Cochet
NARRATOR: Mark Westfield
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 10 hours 8 minutes
RELEASE DATE: September 13, 2017
Sequel to Thick & Thin
THIRDS: Book Nine
THIRDS Team Leader Sebastian Hobbs and Chief Medical Examiner Hudson Colbourn are as much in love now as they were nearly seven years ago when a tragic event on the job destroyed their relationship. The two drift together only to be pulled apart time and time again. When Hudson draws the interest of dangerous enemies, both within and outside the organization, Seb wants nothing more than to protect the man who still means everything to him.
As life-and-death events, an uncertain future, and startling truths draw Hudson and Seb to each other yet again, they must make a choice: trust their love and take strength from what they share, or lose what matters most… for good this time.
I am not a big fan of shifter stories, but this series has had me in its clutches for quite a while now. I will never forget being introduced to the audio while on vacation in Hawaii a few years ago, and I have been hooked ever since.
I love this series. I adore it. I love Charlie Cochet’s world-building, her quirky, flawed characters, and her ability to keep her readers engaged through the heroics and antics of the THIRDS team, their missions, and their relationships. I was thrilled to see Seb and Hudson’s story published, and I jumped at the opportunity to review the audio version. I must say that though I still love the characters, the THIRDS world, and the series as a whole, this particular installment simply didn’t work as well for me as the previous books.
I am an invested reader of all the THIRDS stories and find the whole premise of the shifters among humans, the THIRDS team, their purpose, and their interactions to be wholly entertaining and compelling. I enjoy revisiting characters whose stories have already been told, and of course, Dex and Sloan make further appearances as their relationship develops and they move toward matrimony. So I was intrigued by Seb and Hudson’s history and the circumstances behind their break-up, which has only been alluded to in previous installments.
Although I liked the backstory of Seb and Hudson’s relationship and the explanation about their break up and its subsequent fallout, I think I would rather have seen sexual tension between the two brought about through a gradual rekindling of their relationship than the back and forth between Seb and Hudson throughout the book. Additionally, the external conflicts and villainous characters seemed contrived and unnecessary, not allowing the main characters to work together, communicate, and reconcile in a natural, realistic way.
The action scenes were intense and big-screen worthy as always. Ms. Cochet has a knack for writing perilous situations, and she did not disappoint with this one. Unfortunately, the big reveal and twist was rather predictable, and I am still on the fence with the whole TIN direction the series seems to be taking. It felt that nothing really moved forward here, with a cliffhanger that just didn’t keep me as interested as the previous books.
I have gotten used to narrator Mark Westfield as “The Voice” of the THIRDS series, despite his unusual reading style with its continual downward inflections and odd, breathy delivery. However, it was hard for me to get past his interpretation of Hudson, which had a high, weak pitch and a British accent that just fell too short.
So did I like this particular installment of the THIRDS? Yes. Did I love it? No. That’s perfectly okay, for although this wasn’t my favorite story in the collection, it was still fun to revisit the THIRDS and the characters that make the team unique and the series so enjoyable. I did like reading about Seb and Hudson and their second chance story, and of course I will be on board with the next installment. I am looking forward to seeing where this train is headed.