Thursday, December 25, 2008

Review: Standing in the Shadows by Shannon McKenna

Title: Standing in the Shadows
Series: McClouds & Friends
Author: Shannon McKenna
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: August 1, 2004
Publisher: Brava
ISBN: 075820454X
ISBN-13: 9780758204547

Ex-FBI agent Connor McCloud can never forget the day he was set up to die at the hands of trusted friend and fellow agent Ed Riggs. Hard justice and loyalty to his badge have cost Connor what he wants most - Ed's shy, studious daughter Erin. He can never have her now, but her beauty still haunts and torments his every waking hour and his most fevered erotic dreams. But now that his old enemy Kurt Novak has returned, Connor is prepared to do anything to protect the vulnerable young woman from a killer who has vowed a brutal payback...a killer with a predator's lethal patience.

Erin has been harboring secret fantasies about Connor McCloud since she first laid eyes on him--but that was before his testimony sent her father to jail. Her world is falling apart and it's all she can do to hold her family together. But now Connor is knocking on her door, telling her she needs his protection, whether she wants it or not. He won't give up and he won't stay away. He's sworn to guard her life with his own and his fierce protectiveness awakens long-buried feelings--and a fiery sexuality deep within her soul . . .

My rating:

When Connor McCloud uncovered the real culprit (his one-time boss) behind his best friend's murder (and his own stint in a coma) in Behind Closed Doors and sent him to prison, he lost all hope in winning the girl of his dreams, Erin Riggs, said two-faced bastard's daughter.

Or did he?

Erin Riggs has been in love with Connor McCloud since she was sixteen (more than eleven years) and has never thought she had any chance whatsoever with him - especially now, that he's sent her father to prison.

But now an old enemy is stalking her (or is he?) and Connor is her only hope (or so he claims). But is Kurt Novak really on the loose? Or is that just a convenient excuse for Connor to get close to Erin? And what does Connor really want with Erin? Is he really only after her heart, or is it her very life he covets?

Great news, folks. This one is a quite an improvement since the previous book (Behind Closed Doors), although at first it seems Shannon McKenna has only changed the names and mixed up some scenes and so recycled the previously mentioned book.

But on closer inspection, it is an altogether different book, albeit closely tied to the previous one, although the pacing still has a lot to be desired. The plot mostly brakes under the weight of the numerous sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against steamy scenes (even chapter-length ones), but there are so many and so tightly spaced, that the reader completely forgets what the story is all about in the first place.
After all, it is categorized as a contemporary romance, not erotica.

At least the romance was there (Connor and Erin did know each other for a decade) and it was evident in some scenes, but whenever I grew comfortable and quite content that at least this would be a romance (of some sort), the power-plays resurfaced. What is it with Ms. McKenna's men having to be brutes to be loved? I just don't get it.
And I loved the fact Erin had some spine of her own, although she came through as far too naive for her own good.

At least the two didn't appear as mental as Seth and Raine did, although someone was trying really hard to make everyone around them insane, Connor included.
That insanity plot was a little far-fetched if you ask me, but I've never claimed to be a criminal mastermind, so who I am to judge.

Yeah, it still isn't a great example of a novel, but a vast improvement. Once again, read at your own discretion.


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