A dark story lightened with real love

Courtesy of Happy Endings ReviewsWhat Happens after Dark is a dark, erotic thriller that balances a controversial storyline with a vein of suspense and still manages a beautiful love story at the center of it all. Bree Mason is the quiet, subdued accountant of DeKnight Gauges, Inc. She lives her life in darkness, going through the motions as a meek, withdrawn woman who doesn’t let anyone get too close. Her co-workers know very little about her, she doesn’t have friends, and her relationships are surface only. When it comes to her sexuality, she is a submissive who wants to be controlled and totally dominated, demeaned even. But once she meets Luke Raven, it’s different with him, and that along with a family crisis, changes everything for Bree.Bree’s father is dying of cancer, something Bree wants to block completely from her mind. She ignores her mother’s calls and pleas for help; she pretends it’s not happening. Since Bree is never characterized as heartless or cruel, there is this underlying suspicion that there’s more to the story, which Haynes reveals slowly and cryptically when Bree finally decides to move in to her parents’ home to help. Bree is strangely removed from her father’s deterioration, and her relationship with her mother is strained. Bree imagines that Luke will be another in a long string of guys who gives her what she needs for a while but who will eventually tire of her and leave.Except Luke is the perfect hero. He is dominant, but he’s the ideal. One who always puts his submissive’s needs first, who takes care of her and wants to be let in more than Bree will allow. She tries to distant herself from Luke as she grapples with memories and feelings long suppressed, but Luke pushes his way into every facet of her life. And in return, she needs him more and more. He senses that for her, their relationship is becoming unhealthy, but he is continually protecting her, even when he might have to put a stop to it if it’s not good for her. Their relationship is probably one of the best I’ve ever read about in the BDSM spectrum of romances, what it’s all supposed to be about.It’s not the story that’s shocking. Controversial definitely, but it doesn’t take long for the reader to piece the clues together. It’s the storytelling that is so phenomenal. The plot is never predictable or tawdry. Haynes never comes right out and states anything; she allows the reader the figure it out and has her characters address it in a realistic way, considering it’s such a tough, taboo issue. It’s not a perfect story, but it’s a real story. Bree’s mother’s behavior following the death of her father is very odd, adding to the overall eerie mood, and something as innocent and loving as a dollhouse in the backyard becomes a symbol of evil.Haynes delivers so much more than a typical romance. As in the first book of the series, there are really dark issues in this story, but Haynes manages it better here with the way the story is told and in building the love story throughout. Even at the end, as Bree is finally faced with opening up to Luke once and for all, she doesn’t launch into this monologue filled with stereotypical secrets. There is hope going forward, but it’s expected to be a painful, difficult process. No matter exactly what steps are taken next, it’s clear that Bree will have Luke, a true love, by her side, which is all we can ever really ask for in a great romance.Series: DeKnight trilogy #2#1 Past Midnight#2 What Happens after Dark#3 The Principal’s Office