Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book Review: 'Promises in the Dark' by Karen Wiesner

William Decker, an orphan who grew up without warmth or companionship from those around him, has been a loner all his life, preferring solitude, loneliness and dark corners to friends, anything resembling a spotlight, and even love. When he met Roxanne Hart his first and only year of college, he’d found a center he’d unconsciously looked for all his life. Though Rox loved him deeply as a friend, she was in love with another man and he’d never really had a shot there, despite his relentless, decades-long loyalty. When she announces her wedding, William knows it’s past time for him to stop wishing for the moon, but, more than that, he realizes for the first time that he’d set his heart on an unavailable woman purposely. He’s lived his life on the principle of ‘Better to not love and lose what you never had to begin with’ and ‘You can’t be hurt by anything you haven’t invested yourself in.’ He can’t deny his life mottos have done little beyond keep him lonely…
Sapphire Stephenson married, had a child—and divorced—before she was out of her teens. But starting out life with a newborn and a mother who refused to understand why she couldn’t forgive her cheating, abusive husband, she’d taken the only jobs she’d been able to get, ending up as a bartender in a rough biker joint on Staten Island. Sapphire is certain of two things: That being a good role model for her daughter is the most important thing in her life…and that there isn’t a man alive worth any loyalty. The dudes who come through the bar have no respect for–let alone interest in– anything that isn’t transitory with the women around them. William Decker, long-time patron of the bar, close friend of its owner and now head of security, is the one exception to the rule she’s observed. He intrigues her the way no other man ever has. But is even he capable of more than promises in the dark that he’ll break without regret by the morning light?
“You’re a hypocrite” rattles around in Sapphire Stephenson’s head. Guilt plagues her.
Did Yasmine know about William “Deck” Decker, the bouncer at bar, the man who’d saved her from being raped and now takes her breath away with the steamy sex they enjoy in the bar’s office after her bartending duties and his bouncer duties are over for the night?
Being a good example for Yasmine, her sixteen-year-old daughter, had been Sapphire’s mission in life. She hadn’t brought a man home in ten years.
On the run for most of Yasmine’s life, with only each other to cling to, they’d been more than just mother and daughter; they’d been best friends until recently.
Beautiful, responsible, industrious, intelligent Yasmine, seemingly overnight, had become a rebellious teenager with a boyfriend too old for her. When Sapphire set rules, the angry “You’re a hypocrite” spewed out of Yasmine’s mouth.
Deck, tough, handsome, mysterious, and long-time customer, had stopped his heavy drinking and turned bouncer after Sapphire’s near rape. He’d know her for years and used her for a shrink as he sat at the bar drinking himself to numbness night after night. Rejection, he couldn’t come to terms with, had shredded his self esteem—for some reason he’d been deemed unworthy to be loved by his own mother and the women he’d protected and loved–still loves.
Deck’s “Whatever you want, honey,” sounds like a promise. But are promises made in the dark meant to be kept?
Once burned, twice shy, Sapphire questions her own actions, but being with Deck feels so right.
They all have emotional miles to go before they can find their happy-ever-after—making captivating reading.
Karen Wiesner does a super job of making a book that is in a series very readable as a standalone story. Her characters, with all their flaws, come alive and reach right in and touch the reader’s heart. As she weaves their back stories in, one’s heart grieves for the hurts they’ve suffered.
She makes Promises in the Dark a memorable vicarious experience for the reader.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.