Dark Time by Dakota Banks
Book 1, Mortal Path Series
Read Chapter One
Synopsis from Dakota Banks’s website
Susannah Layhem, a healer unjustly accused of witchcraft in the 17th century, is ripped from her husband's arms and thrown in jail. Abandoned by her husband and friends, she's tied to a stake and set afire. Her raging bitterness draws one of seven ancient Sumerian demons. The demon Rabishu pulls her from the flames, and she signs a contract to live forever—if she does his evil work. Susannah becomes the Black Ghost, an Ageless assassin gifted with otherworldly skills and superbly trained in martial arts.
She obeys Rabishu's orders and remains a beautiful young woman. Then she's given an assignment she can't bear to carry out. She chooses the mortal path instead, and emerges from three centuries of reluctant service as the demon's slave. Now Maliha Crayne, she discovers the fine print of her contract. If she balances lives taken with lives saved, she'll ascend to a paradise straight out of Sumerian legend. If she fails, she faces eternal torment at Rabishu's hands. The ticking clock? Every time she saves lives, she ages. The deck is stacked against her. She's got her own agenda, though. Payback time—killing Rabishu and his kin before he gets his punishing claws on her.
Intimately tangled with Maliha's yearning for personal redemption is her thrilling quest to stop a villain from selling America's security to the highest bidder. For both goals, she will need to relearn what it means to be mortal, to reach out in friendship, and to dare to believe she can love again.
Review by Donna from Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings:
In Dark Time, Dakota Banks gets down to the nitty-gritty. She holds nothing back in the details whether it’s a city Maliha is working in, out on an assassin’s mission or reliving Mahilia’s burning at the stake as an accused witch. This is not a novel that paints a pretty picture but one that is full of the very real complicated feelings of a woman trying to redeem herself for her past sins and working towards ensuring a better future for all of mankind – hopefully without the presence of the demons such as Rabishu and his brethren. While she is trying to redeem herself, she questions whether she will ever have some semblance of normalcy such as having a family. She wonders if this is something she should even allow herself to dream about, especially with DEA agent Jake Stackman.
I liked the way the novel went back and forth between time periods in Maliha’s life. This helped give me a good understanding to how Maliha went from a cold-hearted assassin to the moment when her heart started to warm up again. The flashbacks helped solidify Maliha’s relationships with the secondary characters, made you feel closer to her and her friends while intensifying the feelings of disgust and dislike for the Rabishu and the other vile characters in the story. They also show how Maliha became the self-confident, strong woman she is in present day, who is self assured in her own skills to take care of herself and those around her.
Dark Time was an intense dark read for me, which I enjoyed very much since it's my favorite kind of reading. It reads like a paranormal Mission Impossible assignment, at least that’s how I kept seeing things in my mind’s eye because of the detailed descriptions of the weaponry and gadgets used by Maliha and other characters throughout the story.
The romance in this book takes a backseat to action, though it’s not without a few passionate moments. I liked that the villains are truly evil because this means no easy way out for the good guys and it thickens the plot. But be warned, this book ends with a cliffhanger. So if you’re looking for a fast paced read that is very dark in nature, that makes no apologies, has a kick-ass heroine and a solid storyline, then this book is for you. I’ll be on the lookout for Sacrifice, the second book in the Mortal Path series. Due to the cliffhanger, I just HAVE TO KNOW what happens next!