Pros: Intense, inventive, detailed, and wonderful
Cons: Maybe a little too much misunderstanding between main chars.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review book (uncorrected proof) courtesy of Penguin Group.
Expected publication date: 10/6/2009.
Sera wants to return to her job of shepherding dying people peacefully off to the other side. But she can’t, because she lost what peace she thought she had when a drunk driver left her scarred and broken. Now something has come looking for her: a man with violet eyes, Archer, who warns her to avoid temptation. And temptation itself, clothed in Archer’s seeming.
There’s a war between good and evil that rages constantly within the human heart, but it also has a physical manifestation. Angels, demons, and repentant demons possess vulnerable mortals and use them to carry out an immortal struggle. The repentant demons are known as talya, and make up one of the weaker sides of the fight. But when Sera becomes the first female talya in living memory, that starts to change. Together she and Archer are stronger than either of them alone. And they’ll need that strength, because one of the real demons has a plan that could finally tip the balance of the fight—forever.
Jessa Slade’s Seduced by Shadows is the beginning of her “Marked Souls” series, and it’s a fantastic start! The characters are strong, complex, and interesting, from the leads to the villain to the sides. There are a number of ways in which they defy expectations, which is quite a bit of fun and definitely keeps things interesting.
The plot is intense and action-filled. The pacing of it was perfect, and I had trouble putting the book down even for a moment. There are plenty of surprises and revelations to keep you guessing, but the tension doesn’t rely on your not figuring things out. In particular, one secret is revealed in what, to me, is the perfect manner. The reader receives clues that the characters don’t, so whenever you figure it out, you’re left feeling like the classic horror or action movie person pounding on a window while watching the action, trying in vain to warn the characters about the danger behind them. It’s a wonderful way to increase the tension even more.
Even though plenty of authors are playing with demons these days, Jessa’s world feels different and unusual. In a genre where some authors’ worlds are quick, sketchy backdrops for the romance, this one clearly has a great deal of thought and love put into it. I found it utterly fascinating, and can’t wait to see more. Also, while I’m accustomed to seeing paranormal or fantasy romance series in which some plot device is used to keep a series of romances within a limited group of people from being a giant coincidence, this is one of the few I’ve seen that has felt natural, interesting, and well-thought-out.
Sera and Archer have delightful chemistry, but I appreciate the way they don’t instantly fit perfectly together. They have to work at a relationship, and being possessed by demons doesn’t exactly help with that! Toward the end I thought there was perhaps one misunderstanding too many, but I also admit I’ve lost my patience with the abuse of misunderstandings as a means to keep characters apart in romances, so it’s a borderline thing.
Seduced by Shadows is a gorgeous story with a fresh, original setting, wonderful characters, and a delightful tale of good, evil, and the gray places in-between. The dialogue is snappy, the world and action are visually interesting, and there are some delightful surprises included. A definite win!