Dark. Real. Short. This book is interesting in that it has almost two separate storylines entirely, using at least some of the same characters… and then… stuff happens.
The one storyline is a genuine romance, where our lead is troubled by accusations from her recent past but is trying to move on both professionally and personally. This storyline is dark, but meets every “rule” of the “romance genre”. It is also very *real*, almost viscerally so, in how it portrays and handles the particular situation.
Sadly, the other storyline, where someone else is simply troubled and which leads to the accusations in question (yes, this is a slight dual-timeline approach), is *so much darker*, with violent fantasies of both shooting people and raping people. (To be clear, little is ever shown “on screen” other than the character discussing a *desire* to do these things. That alone could be too disturbing for some readers though, so worthy of noting.) But here again, Banks does a truly phenomenal job of making this character and storyline so very *real*, even as this particular character is truly so *dark* and disturbed.
That Banks manages to create such divergent storylines, using some of the same characters, and manages to do so in such a short amount of space (clocking in at not far over 200 pages), *and then manages to combine them so superbly*… this is a master storyteller at work, yall. Very much recommended.