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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall
Publisher: Zebra Books (Kensington)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (390 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Dr. Melanie Lipton is no stranger to the supernatural. She knows immortals better than they know themselves, right down to their stubborn little genes. So although a handsome rogue immortal seems suspicious to her colleagues, Sebastien Newcombe intrigues Melanie. His history is checkered, his scars are impressive, and his ideas are daring. But it's not his ideas that have Melanie fighting off surges of desire. . .

Bastien is used to being the bad guy. In fact, he can't remember the last time he had an ally he could trust. But Melanie is different--and under her calm, professional exterior he senses a passion beyond anything in his centuries of experience. Giving in to temptation is out of the question--he can't put her in danger. But she isn't asking him. . .

I adore stories where the underdog finally wins the girl but not too often is the good guy a bad guy that everyone wants to see executed. It takes a special woman to not only see beyond the common perception and clamoring for blood, but to also be able to see the truth of the man inside. The challenge for the heroine is to open everyone else’s eyes to the truth as well. Such is the story of Melanie and Bastien.

Phantom Shadows is a real page flipper. There is so much drama, suspense and action of various levels in each chapter that it was almost impossible to put down. There is an incredible amount of detail woven throughout the book that brings the whole world that Ms. Duvall has created into vivid focus. It sucks a reader in so effectively, time ceases to exist. I totally enjoyed my reading experience because of it.

Melanie is a character that has been in a couple of books. She’s a doctor; she’s smart, sassy and has a secret crush on the resident bad boy, Bastien. Except her infatuation isn’t shallow or short-lived, it’s the start of a budding romance birthed in violence and aggression. The first time the heroine met the hero was pure chaos and yet, she saw what no one else did. Bastien trusted her with knowledge that planted the seed of their future alliance. The fruit of that initial meeting is realized in this book and Ms. Duvall simply awed me with the intricacy of the tale.

What is so intricate? It was how she let a reader know bit by bit the true scope of Bastien’s ability to be a true hero. It came about during well-paced and placed dialogue. It was how she had her hero interact with Seth, Richart, Ami, Darnell, Sarah, Roland, Cliff, Joe and Marcus and a slew of other characters. Not a one detracted or diverted a reader’s attention to the fact that this book is about Melanie and Bastien. What it did do was make me feel like I was watching a movie, about a community under fire and everyone was at their battle stations. Every single character played an important role that propelled the plot, conflict and action that affected the choices that Bastien and Melanie had to make, both apart and together. The result of dealing with each crisis helped the protagonists learn about each other, their strengths and weaknesses and it was effective. I enjoyed watching their bond grow and strengthen throughout the story. Because of how Ms. Duvall wrote her characters, they were easy to root for and applaud their efforts, even when Bastien was being a jerk. Actually, that was part of his charm. I got a lot of smiles out of his baiting the other characters. He’s such a troublemaker. Yet, his heart is in the right place and that’s one of the reasons that I think he’s an awesome hero.

Melanie is no slouch. She has a few surprises up her sleeve too. And she scares the tar out of Bastien more than once in the story. So much so, it’s amazing he didn’t have gray hair by the end of the book. To say that she is his perfect match is an understatement.

I felt really bad for Stuart. And I was saddened at what happened during one of the main and brutal attacks in the book. Someone gets captured and the results are heartbreaking. The good thing is that the bad guys, the really bad, bad guys, get their comeuppance. I wanted to be there with the hero and heroine and kick some evil derriere myself, that’s how hyper I got. I really like the people I’ve “met” while I’ve read this series and all of them are precious to me. It must have been hard for the author to write some of these scenes. And yet, she accomplished them with brutal clarity so my emotions were involved. That’s quality writing.

There is so much more I could go into in reviewing this book. It has great depth of emotion, descriptions that made me laugh or weep and parts that kept me wide eyed from the action. A writer has to have almost military precision with words to be able to get the effect of intense action off of the pages and into a reader’s mind without diluting the scene with unnecessary words. Ms. Duvall has that talent.

Honestly, Phantom Shadows is a must read. True, it would have much more impact for a reader if they’d read the previous books to understand why Bastien’s use of Ami was such a daring and profound choice. This series has been amazing so far and Phantom Shadows continues to astound and impress, not only with the quality of writing, but the sheer scope of its undertaking. How the author can keep all the players doing their thing while focusing on the current romance yet feeding a reader’s desire to continue the relationship with previous heroes and heroines is an art. An art that Ms. Duvall is mistress of. Rock your world and read Phantom Shadows. I’m glad I did.