Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Category: Romance - suspense
Series: No

A Shadowed Past
In the wealthy MacDowell family, adopted daughter Carolyn Smith always felt like an outsider. But as she tends the dying MacDowell matriarch, Aunt Sally – the only mother she’s ever known – Carolyn hopes her aunt will find peace. Then Alex MacDowell walks into their lives.

A Dark Secret
Wild and spoiled, Aunt Sally’s son Alex ran away eighteen years ago. Now he has returned – to his loving mother, and to a large inheritance. The headstrong bad boy of the family always stirred mixed feelings of jealousy and desire in Carolyn, but her heart holds a deadly secret. This compelling man can’t be Alex – because on the night Alex “disappeared”, she saw him murdered.

A Deadly Threat
Held in terror, Carolyn kept silent for years. Now as she works to expose his true identity, she uncovers a tangled web of hidden secrets and lies. But Carolyn suspects that the seductive power of this dark and dangerous man could be the biggest threat of all …

This is a wonderful, gripping page-turner! And possibly the best Stuart book that I’ve read so far.

The plot is quite simple, really. The prodigal son returns to make peace with his dying mother, from whom he will most certainly inherit the bulk of the MacDowell wealth. The question is … is he whom he professes to be? And what is he after, apart from the obvious inheritance? Carolyn is quite certain he isn’t Alex, her childhood tormentor, her first love. But this impossibly sexy and compelling man knows too many secrets no one else knows, and he bears the physical scars that the young Alex had. Carolyn and the reader are kept guessing – is he or isn’t he – well into the third-quarter of the story. Into this mix appears a villain intent on killing Carolyn.

Apart from Alex, there is a handful of secondary characters, all family members, who may well benefit hugely from Carolyn’s death. These are shady and ambiguous characters. Is the killer one of them? The suspense is well done, and I was kept at the edge of my seat right until the big reveal. There is an added twist pertaining to Carolyn’s identity, which I think enhances the overall story.

Alex is the quintessential Stuart hero - impossibly charismatic and good-looking, in a dangerous kind of way. He is bad, no two ways about it. And that makes him so darn irresistible. Yup. I’m a fool for Stuart’s heroes. *grin*

Carolyn … for once, a Stuart heroine who matches up to the bad boy! She is almost his opposite in many ways, but she is as vividly portrayed as he is. She is intelligent, beautiful, loyal and upstanding – no wonder the dastardly wicked Alex delights in tormenting her, and not just when they were kids. She fights back in her own way and succeeds in penetrating his thick hide … and I cheered her on every step of the way! Her undying love for Alex makes me care for her too. (Yup, I’m also a sucker for first-love, lost and found.)

I finished the book with a huge grin on my face. Satisfying, check. Heartwarming, check. Keeper, absolutely.

4.5 out of 5. I really like it. It's fantastic, a keeper. Sensuality rating: Warm +

TBR Hill Challenge: Accomplished


Shyan said...

So many Anne Stuart books have you read already?

Jace said...

Hi Shyan,

Besides the 3 that I've commented here, I've also read Still Lake and Shadows At Sunset.

In the TBR:

* Moon Rise
* Night Fall
* Hidden Honor

I'm currently going crazy trying to find as many of her older titles as I can. :)

Kristie (J) said...

Doesn't she do wonderfully wickedly delish heroes? You're never sure until the end exactly what's going to happen. I've read this one although I'm a bit foggy on it since it was years ago that I read it.
You might also want to read some of her Harlequin books. They're also very good and should be gotten for a song I would think.

Jace said...

Kristie, I'm completely crazy about her writing, but more so her heroes! ;) She just has the knack for it!

Thanks for the Harlequin tip. I wasn't sure if they would be as good as her Mira titles, but now I will most definitely check them out! I think I saw some at the UBS!!!

Meriam said...

This is one of my favourite Stuarts! Absolutely love it. Love her bad boy hero (she does the best bad boys), and even though you rate the book as warm, I always find her books really sexy. Often sexier than books that are more explicit. There's just something about the characters and the situations and the life and death angst of it all that works for me.

There's another under rated Stuart I love - Shadows at Sunset. Mostly because there's a scene on a coach that is absolutely steaming.

Jace said...

Hi Meriam ... welcome!

You're right - Stuart's stories are very sexy. I can't think of anyone who does the bad boys and dangerous situations better than her right now.

What I enjoyed a lot about Shadows At Sunset was the love story of Rachel, the secondary character. She lost and found her first love too, and he was such a great character (even though he wasn't really a bad boy). *grin*