"Into the Shadow," Christina Dodd

Pros: Powerful; passionate; fascinating story; tense and heart-pounding
Cons: Not for everyone
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group.
Visit Christina Dodd’s website.

 

Adrik Wilder long ago abandoned his family and gave in to his darkest urges—the desire to kill, to transform into the shape of a panther. It was said that a thousand years ago one of his ancestors had made a deal with the devil that marked every one of his descendants, and Adrik wasn’t exactly fighting it.

Until, that is, he met Karen.

Something about her shone like a light upon his soul. He came to her in the night, her secret lover, as she ran a job site in Tibet. And when the mountain threatened to bury her in a rockslide, he saved her life—and kidnapped her away to be his bride, fascinated by her strength and will. She isn’t about to just give in and be his, however, and his enemies are closing in on him. Add in a prophecy regarding the redemption of his family, and things will get a whole lot worse before they get better…

 

Series novels are both the curse and blessing of being a book reviewer. I get books that are in the middle of a series I’ve never read before (this appears to be book three of at least four). On the plus side, I discover awesome new series, I get a first-hand chance to evaluate whether the books stand alone, and I know there’s a good chance the next book in the series will show up on my doorstep before it’s published. On the minus side, I keep ending up with all these wonderful books I want to go buy so I can catch up on the back-stories of the best series, and I don’t have the time to read them all! Once again I find myself in this predicament with Christina Dodd’s Into the Shadow, book three of Darkness Chosen. It’s fantastic. I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat for the last chapter or so. But now I need to somehow fit the first two books into my schedule, when I haven’t even yet managed to get & read the first four books of Jean Johnson’s awesome Sons of Destiny series.

I’m doomed!

Ahem. But anyway, back to the book. I wouldn’t be in this situation if there weren’t some wonderful authors out there, like Christina Dodd. Her characters are strong, stubborn, interesting, and fun. Some romances have rather cardboard male leads, but hers, thankfully, do not.

The background plot regarding the Varinski and Wilder families, the pact with the devil, and the prophecy to redeem the Wilder branch of the family is wonderfully conceived and executed. It’s a fresh and fascinating take on things, and is used well to create a fast-paced and suspenseful plot that doesn’t rely entirely on romance to keep it moving. I’ve never been entirely fond of books that rely wholly on the relationship struggles to keep things interesting—they almost always have to ratchet up the personality conflict artificially to keep things going. In this case, the Varinski mercenaries do a fine job of keeping things tense and dangerous as they seek to keep the Wilders from ending the pact.

Dodd conveys a tremendous sense of place. It’s easy to see, taste, and feel each location in the book, from the mountains of Tibet to the luxurious gardens of a spa resort or the snowy cliff of a mountain. Her battles are well-drawn, and her sex scenes are hot, sexy, and moderately explicit. My only warning is that while Adrik is still in the grip of his darker side, he’s rather domineering, and that includes the bedroom scenes—something that won’t appeal to all audiences. This is definitely a romance, though, and one in which Karen wholly holds up her side of the struggle for survival.

All in all a gorgeous book, and I’m definitely reading the follow-on next… not to mention doing the ill-advised thing of putting the first two books at a high spot on my wish list!

 

Oh, and yes, this book does stand alone, although if you plan to read the whole series it might not hurt to read it in order!

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