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Born to Darkness

Born to Darkness

3.7 84
by Suzanne Brockmann

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In the near future, as America endures its second Great Depression, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, only to be plunged into a strange world where mild-mannered scientists can kick his highly skilled ass. These “Greater-Thans” undergo rigorous training to master unique abilities—including


In the near future, as America endures its second Great Depression, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, only to be plunged into a strange world where mild-mannered scientists can kick his highly skilled ass. These “Greater-Thans” undergo rigorous training to master unique abilities—including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process—by accessing untapped regions of the brain. But for the rich and reckless, there’s a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that can make anyone a Greater-Than—for a lethal price.
Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie is determined to end the scourge of Destiny. As one of OI’s crack operatives, she’s learned to wield her powers responsibly. But she’s knocked for a loop when she meets the new test subject: Shane, the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. Mac’s got reasons to keep her distance from him—and reasons that are just as strong to want him close. She’s used to risking her life, but now, in the midst of the ultimate war on drugs, she must face sacrificing her heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Brockmann (Breaking the Rules) takes readers on a pulse-pounding ride with the first installment of her new futuristic paranormal series. In the not-too-distant future, Boston is a war zone. A new drug, Destiny, keeps people in perfect physical shape while driving them insane. It’s manufactured from the hormones of preteen girls procured by the nefarious Organization. Trying to combat the tide are empath Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie of the Obermeyer Institute, which teaches “Greater-Thans” to harness their supernatural powers for good, and blacklisted former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin. The Greater-Thans race to save the girls before the Organization discards them. While a departure from Brockmann’s romantic military suspense novels, this story does contain some of her trademark elements—a military hero, a same-sex romance between secondary characters, and sizzling connections to explore in future titles—but never feels formulaic or stale, and the drama pulls readers in from page one. Agent: Steven Axelrod, the Axelrod Agency. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
This work of paranormal romantic suspense launches a new series, set in an economically devastated, politically corrupt America of the near future. Destiny extends life and youth and, as a bonus, grants psychic powers--but it also grants its users violent insanity. Worse still, Destiny is derived from the blood of kidnapped, pubescent, naturally psychic girls, who are kept in a constant state of fear to encourage them to generate the necessary hormones. The "Greater-Thans," powerful psychics employed by the Obermeyer Institute, desperately seek to shut down the cabal synthesizing Destiny, even as romance starts to serve as a potent distraction to their team. Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie believes that her psychic power of seduction has ensnared one of the Institute's new recruits, blacklisted former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin, despite his efforts to convince her his feelings are genuine. Mac's partner, Stephen Diaz, finally rejects the celibacy that he believed would hone his abilities and decides to act on his long-held feelings for Elliot Zerkowski, the Institute's research director; and the team leader, Joseph Bach, still tormented by his wife's death, is surprised to find himself attracted to Anna, the sister of the most recent Destiny kidnap victim. Which of these couples will allow themselves to accept the love they so richly deserve? Brockman tries a bit too hard to emphasize the other characters' lack of military training so that Shane will earn his place at the Institute. (No doubt he'll come in handy in future volumes.) The story is less than innovative, but she makes it appealing, action-packed and sexy. The B romance between the two men earns progressive social points and is both natural and charming. Satisfying on several levels.
From the Publisher
“Brockmann strikes the perfect balance between white-knuckle suspense and richly emotional romance.”—Chicago Tribune
“Brockmann is a master of adventure, drama, passion, and suspense.”—The Tampa Tribune
“[Brockmann] brilliantly combines superbly crafted, realistically complex characters with white-knuckle plotting.”—Booklist

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


The man had taken his own family hostage.

Mac Mackenzie could feel the fear and hear the joker’s wife and three children crying as she quickly scaled the side of the house, all the way up to the roof. Her destination was a small third-­floor window, around the back, that was open a crack.

Stephen Diaz’s evenly modulated voice came through her radio headset as he and their team leader, Dr. Joseph Bach, waited on the ground below. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Subtext: Tick tock, bitch. We’re waiting on you. . . .

Although, okay. The bitch was her own embellishment.

In the entire twelve years that Mac had known Diaz, he’d never once addressed her with anything other than respect. Including the night—­a long time ago—­when she’d embarrassed them both by planting herself, naked, in his bed.

Here and now, Mac didn’t bother to answer him. She just quickly and soundlessly crossed the rain-­slicked roof—­which was actually slate.

No doubt about it, someone who spent a truckload of cash on the freaking roof of their house in these trying times had money to burn. And/or money to buy expensive illegal drugs—­especially the kind that came with the claim that the user would live forever.

Yeah, that whole never die, always look twenty promise that the drug oxyclepta di-­estraphen—­known by its street name, Destiny—­brought to the table was hard for a lot of people to turn down. Especially those who already had all of the cars and fancy houses and pairs of shoes that their billions of dollars could buy.

Although it wasn’t always the case that the addicts she and Bach and Diaz helped contain were über-­wealthy. Some of them had been using the needle for so long that they’d sold off everything in their lives that had any kind of value. Homes, cars, exotic pets. Yachts, jewelry, designer clothing—­none of it worth more than a miniscule fraction of its original price in this craphell economy.

Except for their weapons.

These days, a Smith & Wesson or a SIG Sauer—­even in shitty condition—­was worth more to most people than a Beemer. Especially considering the skyrocketing price of gas.

But eventually the frequent fliers even sold off their guns and ammo, and the cash went into a vein. But damn, they sure looked good, because Destiny gave them youth and good health, as long as you could ignore the whole violent addiction thing. Although looking hot didn’t prevent them from accidentally ODing or worse: hitting the joker-­point and going noisily insane.

Some users jokered earlier than others—­like their current hostage-­taker, who apparently still had enough money to keep the heat on and the lights burning in this three-­story mansion here in the richie-­richest part of one of Boston’s few remaining still-­posh ’burbs.

“Okay, I’m finally there,” Mac breathed into her lip microphone, knowing that everything she told Diaz would be heard by Dr. Bach, too, even though their leader didn’t wear a headset. She dipped her head down over the edge of the roof to get a peek into that partially open window. As they’d suspected, it led into a small bathroom. The shade was up and the light that spilled through came from a fancy fixture out in the third-­floor hallway. She reached over and unfastened the screen, pulling it from its frame. “Status?”

“All inhabitants are still on the second floor,” Diaz informed her. “In the master bedroom. Dr. Bach thinks our guy’s dosing again. What are you picking up? And please don’t do it if you can’t block the fear.”

Fear and confusion from the family was a given. And since, in this case, there were four of them, that fear was a powerful force that left a strangely metallic taste in Mac’s mouth when she lowered her mental shields enough to let it in. But three were children, and even though she didn’t know for sure, she would bet her life savings on the fact that at least two were under the age of ten. Because, from them, she felt a still-­strong blast of hope. This can’t be happening. Daddy loves us—­this must be a mistake. . . .

As for their joker . . .

“I got some serious no-­fear from our guy,” Mac reported to Diaz. “Just a shitload of rage.” She sent the window screen silently flying, like a giant Frisbee, well into the neighbor’s yard. “Beneath that? Jealousy, to the point of hatred. He’s gone.”

“We believe he’s double-­dosing in an attempt to read his wife’s mind,” Diaz reported. “Dr. Bach’s picking up signs of the vill’s increasing telepathic power, but it’s bouncing all over the place.”

“Maybe he’ll do us all a favor and OD,” Mac said as she reached down again and pulled up on the bottom half of the double-­hung window.

The damn thing jammed.

True, she wasn’t in the best position to muscle it up, hanging over the edge of the roof with virtually no leverage.

And even if she got it open all the way, it was still freaking small—­just as narrow as they’d all imagined it would be from down on the ground.

And that was why she’d been sent up here instead of Diaz, who was nearly twice her size. Usually, she backed up Dr. Bach as he made a first-­floor entry, while Diaz climbed the outside walls and gained access through an upper-­floor window, easily unlocking and opening it with his mind.

But every other window in this Victorian monster of a house was painted tightly shut. And not even their esteemed leader Dr. Bach had the power to break that kind of seal without making a shitload of noise.

Of course, there were times when a shitload of noise came in handy. Sometimes this kind of takedown went more quickly and easily when she and Diaz followed Bach’s command to use good old shock and awe. Forget gaining entry by breaking the hundred-­and-­fifty years of paint that glued the windows shut. Just combine their mental powers to blow all of the glass out of the entire structure while flames erupted from the air-­conditioning vents, balls of lightning exploded from every power outlet, and every piece of furniture in the place got up and danced.

Out-­freak the frequent flier.

But this time, Bach didn’t want to go that way, and Bach knew best.

And that wasn’t Mac being snarky, that was Mac being real. Dr. Joseph Bach did know best. She wouldn’t be a member of his weird little freak-­show commando team if she didn’t believe that with all of her heart and soul.

She strained to move the window, trying to gain traction on the slippery roof.

“Need help?” Diaz’s voice murmured in her ear, just as she finally pushed the window back down and got it realigned.

It went up much easier now.

“Thanks,” she said as she rearranged herself, preparing to slip inside.

“That wasn’t me,” he said.

“I was talking to Dr. Bach,” Mac came back. “I’m good to go. Anything else I should know?”

“Joker’s name was Nathan Hempford,” Diaz replied. “That’s all we’ve got.”

And that meant that this particular freak didn’t have a file—­at least not one that Dr. Bach had been given access to as they’d rushed over here to step in and save the day, after the local Boston SWAT team had already failed to the tune of two body bags.

The villain-­formerly-­known-­as-­Nathan was a bullet-­bender—­they all knew that much about him. Thanks to the absurd quantity of Destiny pumping through his veins, he had developed the undeniably impressive mental power to stop a bullet in its path, and return it to the shooter with deadly results.

It was a very rare skill-­set. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite so rare among the handful of addicts who’d jokered in the past few months. Must be something in the current local batch of Destiny—­something that targeted a particular neural pathway.

And that was unusual. No two individuals had exactly the same powers—­even those Greater-­Thans like Bach, and Diaz, and Mac herself, who’d all spent countless hours studying and training and practicing, practicing, practicing to control their individual mental talents—­talents they’d come by naturally, without sticking a needle in their arms.

Mac’s own skills were decidedly different from Stephen Diaz’s even though they both had achieved mental integration of a very high and very rare fifty percent. On paper, their skill levels were dead even. But their skills were individual and unique—­which was why they shared the job of Dr. Bach’s second-­in-­command. Together, their combined talents made them nearly unstoppable.

And while Mac had talents Diaz couldn’t touch, that didn’t stop her from being envious of his.

The grass was always greener.

One of Diaz’s talents was his ability to maintain telepathic contact with Bach from a relatively longer distance than Mac’s erratic two-­to-­ten-­feet, without a SAT signal or a headset. And these days? The SAT towers went down or the signal got jammed more often than not. That was why, also more often than not, Mac was usually the one entering the building alongside Bach, where she was able to communicate silently via hand signals while Diaz did the upper-­window shuffle with Bach securely nestled, all snug in his head.

In fact, their current SAT signal now crackled with static as Mac announced, “I’m going in.”

Diaz came back, “We’ll give you ten. Nine . . .”

It was a tight squeeze through that little window, even for someone as small as she was. Mac went in feet first, which left her feeling vulnerable, particularly when the button at the waist of her cargo pants caught. But she wrestled herself free and in doing so scraped her face on the window’s rough bottom edge.

But then she was inside and moving silently toward the hallway, taking a quick scan of the landing and swiftly finding the stairs leading down.

She could hear Nathan, their joker, his voice tight with anger—­ a common side effect of the drug. “You think I didn’t see the way you looked at him? You think I didn’t notice? You think I didn’t know?”

His words were punctuated by what sounded like blows, and what were definitely screams and more crying.

“Don’t, Daddy, don’t!” one of the younger kids sobbed, as Mac moved faster, as Diaz went straight from four to one.

“Go. We’re go,” Diaz told Mac, adding, “Incoming,” as Dr. Bach chimed in.


He wasn’t talking to Mac and his voice wasn’t coming through her earpiece. It was inside of her head, and definitely in the joker’s head, too. Reverberating, it echoed and permeated, and even though she’d shielded against it, she felt it all the way through her skull and down her spine. It was scary as shit—­or it would’ve been, had she not been on Bach’s team.

“I’m gonna fucking kill you, you lying bitch!” Their joker was back on his feet and threatening his wife sooner than Mac had expected, which was way not good.


Bach got louder and stronger, and this time there was no warning from Diaz—­only a sharp crackle of static. And Mac thought she was fully prepped and shielded, but she must not have been, because the force of the word hit her, too. It lifted her up off her feet and she hung there for a moment with her brain on fire.

Scrambled and on fire, so that when Bach finally let go, she couldn’t snap back quickly enough to keep herself from tumbling down the stairs. She should have tucked and rolled. Instead she flailed her legs like a cartoon character building up speed to run away from an anvil dropping on her head. She felt something in her ankle give as she landed wrong on the edge of one of the stairs.


Meet the Author

Since her explosion onto the publishing scene more than ten years ago, Suzanne Brockmann has written fifty books, and is now widely recognized as one of the leading voices in romantic suspense. Her work has earned her repeated appearances on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists, as well as numerous awards, including Romance Writers of America’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year (three years running), two RITA Awards, and many Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Suzanne Brockmann lives in Sarasota, Florida, with her husband, author Ed Gaffney. Find Suz on Facebook at Suz Brockmann’s Troubleshooters World, and visit her website at www.suzannebrockmann.com.

Brief Biography

Boston, MA
Date of Birth:
Attended Boston University

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Born to Darkness 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
FlamingoLady More than 1 year ago
I have a hard time finding an author I enjoy reading so when I find one I stick with him or her and read everything they write. I've read all of the books from Brockmann's seal team series and thoroughly enjoyed them. I enjoy futuristic books also which this series is. I read to escape and this was a good book to escape with. I enjoyed the characters and cannot wait to see want happens next with them. I've read all of J.D. Robbs futuristic crime series and love those too. I hope this helps you, I dislike writing reviews.
SmittenWithReading More than 1 year ago
My Review: When I first started this blog, it was because I was completely immersed with Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter world and NEEDED to share that passion with someone...and so a book review blog was born. This is her first book she's released since she finished the Troubleshooter series and I wasn't sure how it would go. Why did I ever doubt this author's brilliance? I'm a little scared to say it, but I could maybe just love this world even more than I loved the Troubleshooters. OMG, this book was so good!!! What surprised me most is that there is a paranormal aspect to this series and I absolutely LOVED it. This world is set in the near future...and the future isn't so great for most people. Jobs are scarce, basic services like healthcare and police protection are non-existent unless you are part of the very exclusive rich. In this new world, it's been discovered that people can use more of their brain power. Some have the capability to do it naturally, called Greater-Than's, and other's use incredibly expensive, addictive, and dangerous drugs, called Destiny, to do so. Not only is the drug dangerous, but it has to be made from the blood of those who can naturally use those extra parts of their brain so there is a very lucrative slave market for those people. There is a whole team in this book who are from the Obermeyer Institute. The OI is a privately funded organization which is made up of Greater-Thans who work to find the Destiny distributors and do their own research into these new skills. The bulk of this book is about Mac and Shane. Mac is one of the top 3 Other-Than's at the OI. Her power is empathy and she can switch everything about her aura and appearance to appeal to others. She uses this skill to draw in men...both on missions and when she needs an extra boost. She's discovered when she's hurt, she can boost her healing powers by having sex. Shane is a former SEAL who's been dishonorably discharged for doing the right thing within a corrupt government. As a result, he's been blacklisted and has no opportunities for other employment. He came on OI's radar as a potential Greater-Than and is slated to go in for testing which requires a lock-down and loss of freedom. As a result, he decides he needs one last fling and meets Mac just when she is in need of some healing mojo. When they get together, literally sparks fly and it turns out Shane does more than just boost Mac's healing power. At the time, she has no idea he's slated to become a new OI potential. And that's the way it starts... Whoa! OMG, this book was so good. Not only do you have these two incredible characters with Shane and Mac. Mac is scarred and wounded from the chaos her powers have wrought. Shane is just...YUM, incredible. Mac keeps pushing him away and he just keeps pushing her right back. He refuses to give up on her and their relationship no matter how many times she pushes him away. Gah, he was awesome!!! Then there are the other amazing characters in this book: *Bach- who is the most powerful Greater-Than at OI. He is such an amazing being, but so freaking vulnerable. I think his scenes in this book are absolutely the most emotional. My heart just ached for him...over and over again. *Diaz- he shares second in command with Mac. He's been with OI for 15 years and unlike Mac has taken all their edicts to heart...including their push towards abstinence...15 years, people!!! This was an absolutely fantastic story line becau
Ozzy12 More than 1 year ago
Great book. Shane was my favourite character. I couldn't stop reading and was sad when it was finished
lanalucy More than 1 year ago
Got this one at the local library after quite the wait. lol Born To Darkness is dystopian futuristic paranormal romance, for lack of a better category. Its US is a dark and dreary place; the US in which these events happen is one I can see coming, and hope like hell I'm wrong about. I loved this! Brockmann's other books about the SEALs had kinda reached a point where the number of people who merited at least a brief mention was getting just a bit unwieldy. I look forward to seeing more about some of the main characters (I do love my military men and my Troubleshooters!), and it still seems like she's reached a pretty decent resting place for now. It might be interesting if at some point in the future of this series, she's able to tie it back in some way to previous characters. The cast of this book is fairly large, too, with eightish main characters and nearly a dozen secondary/supporting characters. The characters were written in such a way that they interacted with each other frequently enough that getting to know the characters (and not just as couples) was easy and the transitions between events were mostly seamless. The friendships were wonderfully-written. Establishing the couples as couples was a bit rushed, particularly in the case of Dr. Z and Diaz. That one went from less than zero to eighty in a matter of seconds, it seemed like. Despite this, each of the couples was believable to me, and I want to see where they go from here. The sexual/physical intimacy these couples experienced was a little off for a Brockmann book. Not that the chemistry felt forced, as another reviewer mentioned, but not as hot as I've come to expect. I think this was due more to the need to build this world and these relationships, and I'm willing to be in this for the long haul. I truly believe that the chemistry will build with subsequent stories as the characters deepen their emotional connections with one another. Brockmann subscribed to the strength-through-adversity school in creating her heroines, as each has faced and triumphed over some dark and scary stuff. Having said that, those women still have ISSUES, which are bound to come up in future books. I like that these women are real for the future in which this is set, not for today's US or today's science; they are not one-note perky pollyannas but complex women. Fair warning: there is frank sexual abuse, sexual intimacy without emotional connection and male/male sexual interaction. If any of this bothers you, move along. Born To Darkness does not give us a happily ever after. When it's done correctly, I sometimes prefer the happily enough for now which we get in this book. It's apparent to me that there will be more to this story, and I for one am looking forward to it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed her Tall, Dark and Dangerous and Toubleshooters series, but not this one so much. Why is it that so many authors portray the future as being dark, dangerous, and corrupt? I know that she still loves her son, so I don't mind the homosexual stories, call me a prude, but I really don't need to know about their open mouth kisses. I have also learned not to purchase via pre-order. I was expecting this book to come out in paper back, like her others, there fore I was really disapointed to find I paid over $12 for this book, to me it was more likely to be a $7.99 book, but I still think I would have over paid at that..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Paranormal is not my usual thing, but I usually like Brockmann. I probably won't read BtD again, but it was an OK weekend read - despite being overly verbose and hyperbolic. All the romances seemed rushed and some of the characters (Mac most consistently) bordered on unlikeable at times. The ending was a bit unresolved, a rather blatant lead-in for a sequel. Shane's (ex) SEAL status was constantly brought up but his skills were never showcased, to my disappointment - he just kind of hung around the periphery. That said, when a sequel comes out I will almost certainly read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As an enthusiastic fan of Brockmann's I picked up this book without reading reviews on the strength of my previous experience with her work. I was heartily disappointed. I enjoy the depth of her characters and was not impressed with either the hero or heroine in BtD. The premise and world she created was an excellent addition to the paranormal genre but it fell flat for me. For a true sample of her literary excellence pick up any of the Troubleshooter's series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read this author many times and enjoyed this one but found it to be dragged out in parts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read. Fast paced and interesting characters. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasnt my favorite book by this author.... Nor was it my favorite paranormal world BUT I still enjoyed the novel and recommend it to any Brockmann fans out there who enjoy the twist and turns of watching multiple romance develope throughout a novel. Maybe I'm just picky as this didnt bother me in some of her other works AND I think the paranormal aspect of the book may have magnified this problem for me but I felt like there was just way too much down time in the middle of the book for the lead couple. In fact It got to the point that I was more excited to read about the side romance. Good book : ) cant wait for more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. I enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys books with a futuristic twist to a romantic suspense. This book will keep you in suspense till the very end and leave you wondering what will happen in the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the trip through this book. Shane is true to the navy seal image. Mac is very special. If you are a suzanne brockman fan this is a winner. If you have never read her books this is a great one to start with. Imagine a future where big corporations rule the government. Funding is cut for social services. Drugs are readily available. Birth control is banned in most states. P Yet at the pause (end of this book. Not the end of the story). Good wins over evil.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page turner!  I enjoyed this book so much that as soon as I was finished I looked to see if the next installment was ready.  I'm a huge J.D. Robb fan.  This book reminded me of those.  Might have to re read it!
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SO disappointed! Just garbage
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved, loved, loved this book!!! What an exciting start to what, I hope, is a new series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
was a great book...kept me on my seat....would love to have some of the stuff they are able to do
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I own and treasure all of Suz's other books. Favorite all time author. I love her brain. I love her charscters. I love her views on life. She has challenged me to become more accepting of those around me. Can't say enough good things about her. I need a Jules fix like other people need coffee. So I hate having to give a thumbs down to this. I never came to care about the characters. In fact, I didn't like them. I have already pre-ordered the next book in the Trouble Shooter series, but this series is a no go.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago