Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: Alexander MacDowell
Heroine: Carolyn Smith
Date of Publication: December 31, 2013
Started On: January 14, 2014
Finished On: January 14, 2014
It is always a downright delight to find a novel that you have missed out on from an absolute favorite author of yours. Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart was first published in the year of 1999 and somehow during my voracious hunt through Anne Stuart’s contemporary romantic suspense novels, I seem to have missed out on reading this one. It was when I saw this novel up for grabs on Netgalley that made me realize my grievous “error” in missing out on this. But then again, I can’t complain too much because discovering veritable treasures like this one is the reason why I love reading so much!
Shadow Lover delivers exactly the sort of novel that only Anne Stuart can. With enough twists and turns to the story to make your head spin and the way she brings the story to life with her quintessential bad boy heroes that readers like myself can never get enough of, Shadow Lover brings to life the very reason why Anne Stuart continues to amaze and wow me, practically with every single book I have read of hers to date.
Almost eighteen years to the day he had left never to be heard from since, Alexander MacDowell returns home, seemingly to ease the passage for his mother, Sally’s imminent death. It is only Carolyn Smith, the only MacDowell who isn’t essentially a MacDowell by birth that seems to harbor suspicions about the man claiming to be Alex. And of course Carolyn has good enough reason to be suspicious when she had witnessed Alex’s murder with her very own eyes that fateful night when everything had gone so awfully awry.
In a family laden with secrets, Caroline seems to be the only one who remains unaffected, the only one who seems to have a strong sense of morality and conscience. Caroline’s only wish is to be completely free of the MacDowell’s family once Sally dies, the woman who had unofficially adopted her into the family and loved her as much as she is capable of loving and showing affection towards another.
While Caroline’s sense of mistrust runs deep when it comes to the charming Alex who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Alex that she remembers and dreams of, she can’t help but be fascinated with all that he makes her feel, the feelings of violent passions that he rouses in her far more disturbing to her peace of mind than anything else. Caroline is determined that she would protect Sally at any cost, even if it means holding her tongue from lashing out with the truth which would certainly have dire consequences.
It is only a master like Anne Stuart that can pull off a novel of mystery as intriguing as this one, the seemingly innocent enough plot filled with so many unforeseeable twists and turns that the reader is taken along on a journey that certainly gets the brain cells revving. And then there is the heat factor involved when it comes to Anne Stuart. The way she brings her hero and heroine alive in essentially every single one of her novels, the mistrust and at times hatred born out of the volatile feelings that they harbor towards one another and later on the spillage of the fierce passion serves to be one of the best aspects to her stories.
I can definitely go on and on about the elements that worked for me in the story to make it one that has earned its rightful place in my “Favorites” shelf, but you’ve got to read it yourself to determine just how enthralling a tale that Anne Stuart can weave. There is just something about her heroes with their lean and strong bodies and of course slender hands of veritable strength that just gets my blood pumping. And I would give up just about anything to meet one of these heroes in real life.
Final Verdict: Anne Stuart fills every single page with her exquisite mastery. Most highly and definitely recommended.
Her hands had somehow ended up around his neck, her fingers entwined in his long hair. She closed her eyes—she didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to acknowledge the foolishness of what she was doing. She kissed him, clumsily, and he made a low, growling noise in the back of his throat, one of sheer animal arousal.
The sound made her wet.
He must have known. He slid his hands down and caught her hips, lifting her almost effortlessly, pulling her legs around his waist as he started toward the bed.
“You sure you want me to stop?”
She stared up at him, unable to say a word. She was hot, trembling, shaking with a need more powerful than any she’d ever known. He touched her lip, and his fingers had blood on them. “You bit your lip,” he said. “Bite mine.” And he covered her mouth with his.
“Slowly, Carolyn,” he whispered, pushing her back against the pillows. “No need to rush, we have all the time in the world.”
“No,” she said in a strangled voice. She opened her eyes, and she could see the firelight flickering over their bodies, dark, pagan, magical. “Don’t make me . . . beg.”
He slid his hands up her legs, pulling them apart. “Oh, angel, I don’t want you to beg,” he whispered. “I want to be the one to beg you.”
Her breath was coming in strangled gasps, and she could feel sweat and tears pour down her face. She gripped his shoulders so tightly her hands were numb, and everything was centered around his inexorable invasion, like nothing she had ever felt before.
It was too much, more than she could stand, and she tried to pull away, but he caught her hips with his hands, pinning her against the mattress. “Take me, Carolyn,” he whispered. “You know you can. Don’t be afraid of me. Take me.”
“I thought you weren’t going to touch me until I asked you?” she said in a furious whisper.
“Ask me.” He pushed the shirt from her shoulders, then reached for the waistband of her jeans.
“Go to hell,” she said, and kicked him in the shins.
He caught her face in his hands, holding it still, tilting her mouth up to his. “Ask me,” he said again, his mouth hovering inches from hers.
She stopped struggling. Her face was wet with tears, she looked lost and broken and so damned sweet.
“For what?” she whispered.
“For anything you want.”
“You ran away the last time,” he whispered against her mouth. “Are you going to run away again?”
“Even though I’m a cheat and a liar and a con man and a thief?”
“Do you care?”
“No,” she said in a fierce little voice. “I want you. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you are—none of it matters. I need you.”
“I’m afraid,” she said in a very quiet voice.
“I know you are. And I can’t figure out why. We’ve already done it once and you didn’t suffer any Victorian trauma. You know I won’t force you, you know I won’t hurt you. What’s the problem?”
She stood very still. “I’m afraid I’ll fall in love with you.”
He didn’t know what to say to that. And then a faint, reluctant smile curved his mouth. “Well, you can’t say I haven’t been doing everything I can to keep that from happening.”
“I was in love with the real Alex.”
He could only hope she couldn’t see his reaction. “You were thirteen when he left,” he said roughly. “Thirteen-year-old girls don’t know anything about love. And he was a selfish, spoiled brat who didn’t care who he hurt.”
“I loved him.”
He wanted her to stop saying that. He wanted her to say it again.
He wanted her whether she wanted him or not, but he wasn’t going to make a move.
He didn’t need to. She crossed the room, and before he realized what she was planning to do she sank to her knees in front of him and took him in her mouth.
“Turn over,” he said. “I want you that way.”
He half expected her to object. She didn’t. She did what he wanted, and her strangled cry of pleasure when he pushed back inside her almost finished him.
He wanted, needed to make it last. To take her every way he could think of, and more, so there would be no more secrets between them, no more lies.
She was even tighter from this angle, and he tried to think of something else, to slow himself down, but he couldn’t, all he could think and feel and hear was Carolyn, the soft, desperate little cries she was making, the rich scent of sex in the air, the silky smoothness of her back, the deep, clenching tightness of her.
He reached between her legs and touched her, and she exploded, her scream no longer muffled, a sobbing cry of complete surrender and savage, ultimate pleasure.
And he gave himself up to it, filling her with everything he had left, pouring into her.