Haley Molnare can’t inherit her father’s estate until she runs his company for two years. Her father has been absent from her life, and the little she knows of him comes from her embittered, narcissistic mother — hardly a reliable source. Haley’s idle, materialistic lifestyle suggests she will become much like her mother. She dreads the two years of hard work but wants the money.
Kirsten Mortensen’s Dark Chemistry is the story of Haley’s entry into her father’s world. No more partying every night, sleeping in every morning, or taking her survival for granted.
The company makes raw ingredients for cosmetics companies. Its research department has developed a dangerous and potentially lucrative chemical, and the current CEO intends to profit from it. He will do whatever is necessary to get Haley out of the way. She lacks the experience and knowledge to fight him, so for much of the story the CEO manipulates and uses her. She turns away from her new friend, Donavon, even though she cares for him and he cares for her.
Her weakness could have made her unsympathetic, but one of Mortensen’s strengths as a writer is her ability to get inside a character’s head. Readers experience Haley’s struggle to understand what’s happening and her newfound determination to succeed. Mortensen brings the same insight to the other characters, even the villainous CEO, who is loathsome but also pitiful.
For a moment I doubted the story’s premise, the discovery of a chemical that has the potential to change the world, but the author’s research and careful plotting won me over. Besides, I was already hooked.
Dark Chemistry has the essential ingredients of a page-turner — professional prose, a gripping plot, interesting and believable characters, and a love story that’s touching but never sappy.
Every evening I looked forward to reentering the story, and I read late into the night to reach the ending.
It did not disappoint.