29 October 2008

Review: Shannon McKenna - Standing In The Shadows

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Brava Books (October 20, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 075820454X
ISBN-13: 978-0758204547

Ex-FBI agent Connor McCloud can never forget the day he was set up to die at the hands of trusted friend and fellow agent Ed Riggs. Hard justice and loyalty to his badge have cost Connor what he wants most - Ed's shy, studious daughter Erin. He can never have her now, but her beauty still haunts and torments his every waking hour and his most fevered erotic dreams. But now that his old enemy Kurt Novak has returned, Connor is prepared to do anything to protect the vulnerable young woman from a killer who has vowed a brutal payback...a killer with a predator's lethal patience.

Erin has been harbouring secret fantasies about Connor McCloud since she first laid eyes on him - but that was before his testimony sent her father to jail. Her world is falling apart and it's all she can do to hold her family together. But now Connor is knocking on her door, telling her she needs his protection, whether she wants it or not. He won't give up and he won't stay away. He's sworn to guard her life with his own and his fierce protectiveness awakens long-buried feelings - and a fiery sexuality deep within her soul.

I went through a scope of emotions with Standing In The Shadow but one thing’s for sure, the characters had to grow on me. Nonetheless, the characteristic writing style of Shannon McKenna is all over this novel and the suspense is delivered with a top notch cast of evil doers. The eroticism is mind blistering and what can I say, McKenna knows how to deliver the goods when it comes to her male characters and opposing them to female heroines discovering their own strength!

Having said that, I couldn’t always grasp Connor and Erin in their reactions towards one another. Especially in the tedious first night of their passionate encounters. And the encounters were extensive, thorough and plenty, almost making me feel weary to read another hungry erotic scene between them. In this timeframe the suspense was stirred up again and when it got in the realm of interesting the story went back to another erotic scene between Connor and Erin. Now I’m all for the passion within a novel, especially the way Shannon McKenna gives voice to it, but it almost felt like that was all to this story making me wonder where the depth had gone.

But oh my, was I in for a surprise. Because after that night the story leaps into a plot wise spectacular story and the balance was found for me in a character and plot driven tale. It held moments of jet set action combined with emotionally drenched scenes that made the suspense thrive and its impact wasn't lost on me. It kept me completely spellbound to the pages again, focused on how it will all end.

Erin is a woman who hasn’t had a break in a long while since her father got arrested and now Connor casually sauntered back into her life, crowding her with his suspicions. Still, they have a history together and slumbering emotions are stirred back to life. Erin is the kind of woman you can easily empathize with and I cheered her on as she shed a bit of the “good girl vibe”, got some backbone and gave Connor as good as she got. In the end she managed to astonish me and leave me with a feeling Connor is in for one exciting adventure.

Connor was a bit of a mystery to unravel for me. At one side dark and complex with caveman moments and on the other side he also has all the attributes of a hero and doing the chivalrous thing. I just didn’t know what to do with him until Sean explained him to me. Now if there is one person who truly surprised me in the end it is Sean. He is the youngest brother in the McCloud clan. I thought at first he was a superficial, fun-loving, charm the skirt of any woman, kind of guy. In the end he knocked me of my feet with an intensity blazing from him, with this he showed me another side of him and he immediately went up my interest scale.

If there is one thing I also discovered in Standing In The Shadows, is that I can read on and on about the interactions between three close knit brothers. It radiates a masculine vibrancy that comes from a tough-as-nails attitude which is born from a different and difficult past. Davy is the oldest, Connor in the middle and Sean is the youngest of this incredible threesome. They all have their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses and each had something that appealed to me. Nothing will keep me from reading each McCloud story for I want to know each HEA, and each women who brings them there. Davy and Sean added an intimacy to Connor’s story that coiled into an emotionally riveting reading experience. It beckoned me to keep reading and the end, the end is why I love to read romance so much. Give me a McCloud any day of the week.

And then there’s Novak and his crew whom gave the plot a face of twisted righteousness and spoke of their diabolical pursuit of it. I found it interesting to see how Shannon McKenna can portray these characters. At first seemingly normal but their way of thinking is creepy and only makes perfect sense to them or serves them in some way. In the end good wants to victor over evil but the road is filled with insinuations, allegations and under minds the faith and trust the main hero and heroine have in one another.

This is the second novel I read in the McCloud series and though all the hallmark elements of Shannon McKenna were present again, it turned out to be a completely different story from Behind Closed Doors. Connor and Erin didn’t have me from the start but they sure made up for it by the time I closed their novel. I say go out and meet those gorgeous McCloud men and their friends!

Quote:Passion fused them together. All the truths of their hearts were known to each other. Nothing could be hidden, nothing held back. No boundaries, no borders. One being.

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