Into the Shadow

Christina Dodd
2008, Shapeshifter Romance
Signet, $7.99, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0451224515
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Into the Shadow is the third book in Christina Dodd’s Darkness Chosen series. While I didn't care at all for the first two books, this one is an improvement, yet still doesn't quite make the grade.

Karen Sonnet is a construction manager, building hotels in far-off, exotic locations for travelers who seek extreme thrills. Her latest project is a hotel on the border between Nepal and Tibet, near the famed Mount Anaya, a mountain surrounded in mystery and death. From the beginning, this project has not gone as planned: Her assistant is a lazy bum, and everyone’s scared to death of working near this mountain. The only thing that’s keeping her from going crazy is a mysterious lover who comes to her at night and disappears before she can ask any questions.

One day she climbs up the mountain to examine an old burial site and finds a gold necklace. Part of the mountain begins to collapse, and she is trapped. Luckily, a man on a motorcycle suddenly comes to her rescue. He calls himself Warlord, and, in true alpha male fashion, announces that Karen is his bride and promptly hustles her up to his cave in the mountains. Warlord is a mercenary who has ticked off the local armies on both sides of the border; soon, the situation escalates, and he decides that it isn’t safe for Karen to remain with him any longer. He sends her home, promising that he will return for her.

Two years later, Karen has quit her job and is now an events coordinator. At the grand opening of a new spa, she meets Adrik Wilder, a businessman who looks suspiciously like Warlord. Yet where Warlord was brooding, growly and macho, Adrik is funny, open, and a little goofy. However, there is more to Adrik than meets the eye: he has come to rescue her from the evil Varinskis who are after her gold necklace.

The book's premise intrigued me, but the way it played out occasionally felt sketchy. The story would really benefit from a larger page count. Some characters played important roles but only appeared for a few pages; I'd have appreciated more development for them. Still, I understand this isn’t supposed to be an epic novel, so perhaps the plot is too adventurous for such a short book. As a previous reviewer mentioned, there are a few disjointed scenes, and some awkward sentences that jolted me. There are also some excruciatingly cheesy scenes, and I found myself trying to flip through those as fast as possible.

I admit, I was really disappointed to find that the book begins with the heroine having repeated, unprotected sex with a man she’s never seen. I was very dubious as to whether or not the author could pull off the rest of the story; surprisingly, I was still able to enjoy Karen’s character. No shrinking violet, she can rough it out in the wild and live in sub-zero environments with the manliest of men. She is definitely not stupid, which makes me wonder why she’d be obsessed with a strange man to begin with. I almost felt like Ms. Dodd had to fulfill the requisite amount of sex scenes, and decided to stuff them all in the beginning so they wouldn’t interfere with the plot. Adrik is certainly a dashing character, but knowing his past, I found it difficult to accept his 180˚ change. He’s a little too Jekyll-and-Hyde, and his rationale, although it “works” based on the background we’re given, is too flimsy.

Into the Shadow reads easily, and the leading characters have strong chemistry. But too much is shoved into too few pages, which disrupted the narrative flow, and limited character development of many of the book's characters. I remain a fan of Christina Dodd's historical romances, but this book is such an improvement from the first two in the series that I'll probably give Firebird’s story a try.

-- Emma Leigh

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