Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan
Book Four of the Darkest London series
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I think this is a case of it's-not-you-it's-me! I was also a bit meh about Winterblaze, with lots of issues in that book as well. So I'm thinking it's just my reaction to this series in general. For one, this book came across as very similar to Winterblaze, in plot and in terms of the two main characters.
As a GIM, Mary has enhanced supernatural abilities. She works for the SOS, and has landed her first field assignment... with Jack Talent, a man who loathes her and intrigues her. Jack doesn't want Mary on his assignment. For one, HE'S the Bishop, but he's not the one killing shifters (he's also a shifter, so why would he be doing that?!). But everyone suspects something is going on with Jack, and so Poppy has Mary put on the assignment to spy on Jack. But Mary finds that Jack is above reproach - he is driven and broken, determined and unyielding. But Jack's past is coming back to haunt him, and he might not be able to save himself, or Mary.
I really liked Jack - which is usually the case, with adult romance novels. I generally really like the male protagonist, and this case is no different. Jack has a horrifying, terrifying past, and he has every right to be closed off and cold. He is out for revenge, for vengeance, but he holds his feelings close to his chest. He doesn't let anyone in, and it worries his family.
Years ago, when he met Mary, he fell for her. But her GIM master made Jack swear that he would stay away from her (or he'd blackmail Jack), and so Jack did. Years later, Mary doesn't forget Jack's coldness towards her. Jack is moody and irritable and overall a sour lemon to be around, but he has every reason to be like that. And Mary enjoys needling him.
Mary... I don't think I liked Mary. More on that later, but she's entirely too much like Poppy from Winterblaze, which is a problem for two reasons: one, because two female protagonists from two different books shouldn't be so similar, and two, because I didn't like Poppy at all. But more on that later.
The mystery surrounding the story really had me going - I didn't know what would happen, had no idea who was killing shifters, had no idea what Jack was (apparently, he's not just a shifter). If there is one thing that Callihan can do really well, it is craft a great mystery (or ten). The paranormal aspect of this book/series was more interesting in this book for me than in Winterblaze.
Despite the length and duration of the novel, and my dislike of Mary, I was okay with this novel. Mostly, I liked Jack a lot, and felt for him. He has a lot of hurt and guilt stored in him, and I wanted to see him unleash all of it, and heal. If that was in the form of vengeance, or Mary, or both, then that's fine. I just wanted him to be alright, and give him a hug!
What I Did Not Like:
As I mentioned about, I didn't like Mary. Gosh, I just don't like the females in this series, do I? I totally understand what Callihan is trying to do - create strong-willed, feminist characters that hold their own and stand toe-to-toe with the boys. It's just weird to me, the females rub me the wrong way in this series. They come across as pushy and annoying, selfish and bossy.
Mary and Jack both make a lot of mistakes, but I feel like Mary's are so much stupider and hurtful. And yet, I feel like Jack is the one who is always apologizing. I know this is a stigma these days - the man should apologize no matter who did what, but that's a bunch of BS, in my opinion. Jack should not have had to apologize or feel bad for certain things involving Mary.
Mary is basically a carbon copy of Poppy from Winterblaze. And if you might recall from my review, I didn't like Poppy at all. She hurt Winston a lot, just like Mary hurt Jack a lot. It's like the female protagonists enjoy holding things over the male protagonists' heads.
While I enjoyed the paranormal aspect more so in this book than in Winterblaze, I found this particular book to be too long and boring. It was only 427 pages, but it certainly felt long, and I was bored at times. I read the whole thing, and in general, I was interested in what was going on, but I felt like certain chunks of the book could have been cut out.
Did I mention that I didn't like Mary? Well. When you don't like the female protagonist, it's hard to like the book a lot. Jack saved this one from getting a lower rating. He's quite the hunky guy.
Would I Recommend It:
In any case, I don't think I'd recommend this series, honestly. It's a massively popular series, and I know many people love this author's books, but I don't think this particular series is for me. I didn't dislike the two books that I read, but I didn't love them either, and they don't really appeal to me.
2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. I probably won't be reading any more of the books in this series (granted, I'm also like, three behind). Perhaps I'll read new Callihan books in the future, maybe strictly historical romance novels (and not paranormal historical romance novels).
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