Review: Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan

15787204Shadowdance (Darkest London, #4) by Kristen Callihan
Paranormal Historical Romance
December 17, 2013
Forever

Reviewed by Tori

Favorite Quote:  “I think you want revenge so badly, your teeth ache.”
Once a heart is lost in shadow…

Life has been anything but kind to Mary Chase. But the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals has given her purpose. Now she’s been tasked with catching a vicious murderer dubbed the Bishop of Charing Cross. But someone is already on the case—and the last thing he relishes is a partner.

Only someone who lives in darkness can find it.

Jack Talent has been alone with his demons for many years. He never expected to have the willful Mary Chase assist him on the Bishop case. Their age-old rivalry reaches new heights—even as their desire for one another reaches a fever pitch. Though he aches to bring her close, Jack’s dark secrets are a chasm between them. With dangerous enemies closing in, Jack must find the strength to face the past…or risk losing Mary forever. (Goodreads)

Shadowdance is the fourth installment in Callihan’s Darkest London series and packs the hardest emotional punch.  A dark, sensuous, paranormal romance that delivers a delicious enemies to lovers trope with an action packed intriguing storyline. Anger, betrayal, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice and love all circle throughout, pitting two indomitable forces against one another. While I will admit the first half of the book is rather tame in comparison to the first three. Though filled with some action, there is an itchy sense of waiting for something as Callihan provides the in depth look at the antagonism that exists between our protagonists. Callihan devotes a lot of time showing us this and setting up the storyline and main conflict. The arc is being tightened and explanation and clues are given like puzzle pieces, leaving the reader to assemble the final product.

Set in the Victorian Era, this steampunk/pnr is heavily character driven. Its sensuous evolution of our protagonists and the plot lines are what makes this series such a fascinating engaging journey. Smooth writing and sharp descriptive detailing drew me in as Callihan further explores and elevates the supernatural wonders of her world. I continue to be impressed by the time and effort Callihan takes in developing her characters and their connections to the world and one another. I don’t recommend reading this as a stand alone. Though each book revolves around a main h/H and has a resolvable conflict,  the longstanding arc continues to develop in each new story and the characters bleed over.

Our protagonists, Jack Talent and Mary Chase, have always been solid secondary characters throughout the series. Callihan has dropped hints of their pasts and eventual collision since book one. In here she finally reveals everything about Jack and Mary and previous situations and scenes begin to makes sense. Both Jack and Mary are damaged individuals. Jack Talent, a rare shifter, escaped an abusive childhood only to run and find a home with Ian Randolf. Ian practically raises Jack and the bond between them is similar to father/son. In Winterblaze, Jack was kidnapped and horribly tortured. He’s rescued by Mary which only serves to fuel his dislike for her. A facsimile of Mary was used by the kidnappers to trick him in the first place. He knows, deep down, it wasn’t her but his anger, fear, and disgust over what happened to him holds fast and he takes it out on Mary.

 

Mary sighed, her anger deflating as she glanced back at Darby’s window. “I liked you. When we first met,” she clarified when he turned sharply. “You seemed a good sort. Until you began to look at me as though I were something found under your boot.”

 

Mary Chase is a GIM (Ghost In the Machine). Like Jack, her childhood left much to be desired and we find that she too has been used and taken advantage of. Raped by three men then dying while she tried to escape, she was found by a man named Adam and given a mechanical heart. She is now able to separate herself from her soul and has become a exceptional tracker. It was in Winterblaze that Mary was approached by Poppy Lane and given a job and purpose with the SOS(Society of the Suppression of Supernaturals).

The majority of the book focuses on Jack and Mary’s turbulent relationship. Jack is at an emotional breaking point. He feels dirty and strikes out at everyone-Mary most of all. What makes matters worse is he is extremely attracted to her. He wants her so badly but feels unworthy of her so like a little boy, he pushes her away in the harshest of manners. Mary has her own secrets that she uses to insulate herself against the feelings she has for Jack, choosing, like him, to strike out at him in anger. Even with the constant arguing, the sexual tension and explosive chemistry these two have nearly make you break out in a sweat while reading.

It was too much. And not enough, because she wanted to touch him. Her whole being strained closer, watching as his buttocks clenched and his calves lifted. A series of guttural, helpless groans broke from his lips, his fist positively slamming over his poor, abused cock. Then he came, all those glorious muscles bunching hard and tight. Her mind went blank. [...]

Sheer terror, tinged with hot humiliation, prickled through her being as his husky voice lit over the room. “Was it good for you, too?”

When their breaking point comes and they finally bear everything to one another, this reader found it was well worth the wait. The intense emotional and mental cleansing they experience is heart breaking.

 

If Talent used her as a toy, something within her would break.

 

The main conflict rides along side the tragedy laced romance, interjecting at key times. Deception and betrayal is the base it’s built upon and Callihan shows a deft hand at keeping the reader off kilter.  A roller coaster ride of intrigue and suspense, twisting and turning the reader until you reach the end with your eyes wide open and clinging to your seat.

We see so many old friends in here and meet some new and interesting ones. Well placed sardonic humor lightens this serious storyline. I died during a particular conversation that takes place between Mary, Daisy, and Adam. Clues are given to the next hero and heroine and their adventures look to promise an exciting storyline. I enjoyed that Callihan brings in the past into play here and we see the future of past characters. Further revelations are made concerning the various supernatural agencies in play and I enjoyed the insinuation that nothing is ever set in concrete concerning their agendas.

Callihan continues to excel with this series and I for one am enjoying the ride. The slow interjection of steampunk makes this paranormal historical romance a step up in the genre. I look forward to book five, Evernight, which releases August 14, 2014. I recommend this series to all who love strong dynamic characters, intriguing storylines, and romances that are hard earned.

RATING: B+

Previous Kristen Callihan Reviews

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Night Owl Reviews
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Comments

  1. says

    Great review (and quotes!). I loved this book — so freakin’ good! I didn’t get a chance to read 2 & 3 before picking up my ARC of Shadowdance, but I wasn’t lost; however, I definitely can’t wait to go back and read them now!

    Enjoy,
    TBQ

  2. says

    I preordered this and can’t WAIT to get to it OMG I love it when the hero and heroine are adversaries and the tension between these two has been built so well. Great review!

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