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Monday, October 19, 2009

Dance in Shadows by Karen Wiesner

Dance in Shadows: Incognito Series 9 by Karen Wiesner
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short (133 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Long-time Head of Network Operations, Angelo Pluzetti, has faced danger in every form, to the most extreme degree. He gives his loyalty without question to the primary mission of the Network and to his family of operatives. He’s kept his own heart, emotions and personal needs buried. After countless years, Angelo has never failed and never been captured by an enemy...until he’s targeted by R.E.D. and kidnapped. The last thing he expects is the deceptively-frail Celine Savage, Network doctor and the mother of his unborn child, to be the one to save his life and unbury his heart.

Dance in Shadows explores the depths of what happens to a man when everything he cares for is ripped from his life and the kind of woman who eventually heals his soul – with him kicking and bucking the entire way.

When I first started reading Dance in Shadows, I was all set to read about ‘The Immortal’, Angelo. The man who recruits agents for The Network, who seems to think five steps ahead of everyone else and is infallible in anything he says and does. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? It turns out that Angelo has a tortured and tragic past which should have destroyed anything remotely human inside him, and turned him into the perfect Network machine. Except, his loss didn’t kill his compassion, his understanding, and his wanting a happily ever after … for everyone else, not himself. If you’ve read the series, you’ve seen him stick up for his operatives, indeed even do the unthinkable on their behalf. How can a man live by two sets of beliefs? He can’t and neither can Angelo, which this story explores in heartrending detail. He, more than anyone needs the saving grace that only love provides. One of the previous books, about #1, Shannon Mckee, was intense and I thought her story was the height of which pain can go. Not so. Angelo knew love, knew the joy and knew to his very bones how precious love was … and was determined to never be vulnerable to that pain ever again. Too bad he’s so stubborn. This is the story of love reborn.

Celine wasn’t a character I really followed. I knew her as Hunter’s sister and I knew she was brilliant. Nothing in the previous books prepared me for Dr. Celine Savage. I’ve heard of the phrase, ‘doctor, heal thyself’. The irony is, they usually can’t, and neither can Celine. Ms. Wiesner has the knack for taking what you think you know and leads you on a bit until you are complacent, then rips the rug right out from under you.

At first I really wasn’t too keen on Celine being Angelo’s heroine. She’s got some seriously bad mojo weighing her down and it certainly affected me. I scoffed that such a person could be that smart and that compromised all at the same time. Then came that groaned, ‘oh no’ moment when all that changed. When I realized that Celine is a victim and although pushed to excel in education and medical talent, was kept in a protected corner, pre-ordained by the people who claimed to care for her the most. How does a character grow and thrive in that kind of environment? Unless he/she finds the will to fight, they don’t. Dance in Shadows then becomes a book about personal growth, redemption and validation. These are very challenging concepts in a world that usually crushes the weak in favor of the strong.

This book’s strength is the personalities of Celine and Angelo, their dialogue and interaction and the emotions that grip a reader from chapter to chapter. I had serious doubts at times that this romance was going to survive. Not because of The Network’s dictates and mandates which dogged the previous books, but from these characters’ own internal demons. This story is compelling and engrossing, perhaps even hard to read, as it was for this reader. Yet nothing good comes easy, ecstasy doesn’t fulfill without trust and a happily ever after is only guaranteed when it’s yearned and worked for by both parties. Throw in a few enemies determined to destroy them both and you have effective tension and suspense to keep your eyes glued to the page while you ask yourself, ‘what can possibly happen next?’ Only Ms. Wiesner knows and I eagerly look forward to the next gripping tale from her talented mind.