Welcome to my stop on Celebrate Lit’s blog tour for Erynn Newman’s suspenseful new novel Out of Darkness! This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. We will make a small commission if you click through to buy something.
About the Book
Book title: Out of Darkness
Author: Erynn Newman
Release date: May 18, 2017
Genre: Romantic suspense
Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.
As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.
Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go.
Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo.
When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.
I’m going to be really honest with you today so I’ll start by saying I’ve been dreading writing this review since I was about 1/3 of the way through the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book and am not required to write a favorable review, but I usually only accept complimentary copies of books I fully expect to like because I hate writing negative reviews!
But the fact is that I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. I loved the must-read prequel, First Light, which the author also sent to me to read, but there were a few things about this one that just made it unenjoyable for me. First of all, the book blurb gives away way too much! I expected the things in the book blurb to happen in the first couple chapters to set up the actual book, but the things in the blurb are at least the first half of the book. So I found myself disengaging from a lot of the emotions in the first half because I knew what was coming and didn’t want to “get hurt” with the characters. I’d ordinarily never share this kind of a spoiler in a review, but since it’s fully in the blurb, I’ll go ahead and say that knowing as the reader that Drew was still alive made every single romantic scene between Elisabeth and Gabe incredibly uncomfortable and I just wanted them to end. The fact that they continued for the first half of the book was excruciating for me!
I thought for a while, wondering if I could just recommend skipping the book blurb, but I realized that really wouldn’t help much because it’s revealed to the reader in the first few chapters that Drew is alive and his story runs concurrent to Gabe and Elisabeth’s for the first half of the book so I think I would have been just as uncomfortable even if I had skipped the book blurb.
I enjoyed the second half of the book much more because I didn’t know what was coming and things about Drew were out in the open. But there were still a lot of uncomfortable and painful scenes, and it was still hard to read because I knew that there was no way all of the three main characters could come out happy at the end of the story no matter what happened.
To finish this review, I’m going to set aside my personal emotional reaction to the book so that I can objectively say that both this book and the prequel are very well-written. The characters are complex, flawed, and very easy to relate to, and the mystery portion of the book is well thought out and was, in my opinion, the best part of the story. I believe this author has a great deal of talent, and I would probably even give her next book a try, but I’d be sure to check that there were no unwinnable love triangles involved in it first! In closing, I found myself thinking several times throughout the book that fans of Karen Kingsbury (which I am not) would probably really enjoy Out of Darkness as it reminded me a lot of her style of writing.
About the Author
Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.
20 Facts About Out of Darkness
- I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
- I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
- It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and backstories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
- My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great storytelling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
- I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
- So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
- Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
- Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
- Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
- Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
- I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
- Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after.
And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone.
But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different backstory for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
- I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
- Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris.
Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
- Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
- I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
- The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
- I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
- Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
- A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
- After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
- Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
- So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about.
The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.
August 17: A Baker’s Perspective
August 17: Genesis 5020
August18: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
August 18: Reading Is My SuperPower
August 19: Fiction Aficionado
August 19:Inklings and notions
August 20: Reflections from my Bookshelves
August 20: Blossoms and Blessings
August 21: History, Mystery & Faith
August 21: Blogging With Carol
August 22: Faithfully Bookish
August 22: Mommynificent
August 23: Just the Write Escape
August 23: Moments Dipped in Ink
August 24: 100 pages per hour
August 25: Carpe Diem
August 25: Christian Bookaholic
August 26: J.E. Grace Bog
August 26: Karen Sue Hadley
August 27: God’s Little Bookworm
August 27: Back Porch Reads
August 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
August 28: Margaret Kazmierczak
August 28: Daysong Reflections
August 29: The Fizzy Pop Collection
August 29: Remembrancy
August 30: Avid Reader Book Reviews
August 30: Henry Happens
To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies.!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/beac