Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Into the Shadow

Into the Shadow by Christine Dodd
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal; Action/Adventure
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

For the ability to transform into a heartless predator, a brutal warrior promised his soul-and the souls of his descendents-to the devil. Now, one thousand years later, the Wilder brothers battle the darkness inside them.

Blessed-or cursed-with the ability to change into a sleek, cruel panther, and driven by a dark soul he's accepted as his fate, powerful Adrik Wilder abandons his family and his honor to pursue a life of wickedness. He excels at every vice, kidnapping strong-willed Karen Sonnet and forcing her to welcome the helpless pleasure only he can give her. But Karen's spirit and passion make him question the force of his family's curse, for she could be the key to their survival. And when a new evil emerges, Adrik must choose whether to enact revenge on his enemies and redeem his soul or save Karen from a fate worse than death.

Into the Shadow is the third book in the Darkness Chosen series and I think the grittiest and most compelling so far.

If you are looking for a tortured hero then Adrik qualifies hands down. Add in a prerequisite for an alpha personality and he passes with flying colors. If you crave to save a man, to redeem him against all odds, then Adrik is your hero. He’s almost gone over to the other side, even though he retains some human and altruistic traits and tries to do right. He enjoyes the ability to wreck havoc on his enemies—so much so, his men aren’t too sure he is not the enemy walking among them.

But wait, wait until you meet Warlord! I liked him first. I mean, sure he was a little bossy. Okay, extremely bossy, and controlling, but I found his treatment of Karen sort of sexy in a caveman kind of way. I liked the first adventure with Warlord in the beginning of the story but was worried about how Ms. Dodd was going to top that relationship with Adrik. I mean two alpha guys in one book? YUM. I can safely say she pulled it off to my romantic satisfaction.

I want to go back to Adrik because he is my favorite and one of the cursed. If his true love really can save him, and bring him back to his future and destiny that the Wilder family is praying for, then the woman is going to have to be a ball buster. And Adrik has been away from home for so long – he left a boy and would be coming back as a man – I was looking forward to a happy homecoming. Things never go easy when you are a Wilder.

Karen is tortured in her own way but no one will ever know. She has developed this strong and impenetrable exterior to hide the yearning and emptiness inside her, a huge abyss she feels powerless in stopping herself from falling into. But she is a fighter; she won’t quit and has determination and guts. She is also one of the few female characters in this series who readily accepts that there are other things in this world that are evil, abnormal and unexplainable. That understanding is made clear during the rock fall. I myself found it pretty darned eerie.

There is a lot of mysticism in this book. Maybe I should say superstition, but I don’t think so based on the fact that all the Wilder men are cursed and there is nothing normal about their fates.

The villains in this story include the whiny and creepy Phil and Innokenti, a very scary and sadistic bad guy. When Karen meets a Varinski for the first time, get ready for some serious action and mayhem. In fact the suspense and intensity when good fights evil keeps the pages turning in a flurry.

One of the things that could easily have fallen into a tired and insipid cliché is the ‘father who wanted a son and got a daughter and she craves the love of her daddy but never gets it because he can’t stand the sight of her’ kind of thing. Ms. Dodd spun that cliché on its ear. Jackson Sonnet is not the predictable character you’d expect and I was very happy to read what he ends up doing and thinking. No wonder Karen can handle anything Adrik throws at her. Yes indeed, I think Karen qualifies as one tough cookie.

In this story, the Rom’s role is going to be made clearer and I like where it’s heading. In saying that, I would have to recommend readers of this review to read Ms. Dodd’s first two in the series, Scent of Darkness and Touch of Darkness, because in doing so, Into the Shadow becomes richer, more fleshed out and a reader will have a greater emotional connection and investment for these courageous people to break the curse.

The proviso of the curse is only the true love of the cursed Wilder man can find and hold the piece of the icon that was thrown to the four corners of the Earth. He has to love her. I think it a wonderful fantasy that there would be tangible proof of the sincerity and truth of a person’s love for one another. Alas, we are only human and that doesn’t happen. We trust our hearts, as fallible as that is. I think the concept is romantic and MS. Dodd weaves it with flourish. When Karen and Adrik get together, it is hot, passionate and I was very satisfied. Well, they were too but I am talking about the writing; it works – very well.

Without question or doubt, I recommend this book to paranormal fans everywhere. It’s a wonderful and exciting read and hard to put down. Into the Shadow is worth the time. Now, my only concern is the final book in this series – how can it top this one? Five Books.