Shadowdance is book four in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. From the first book in this series I was captured by the tone, setting and feel of the writing. Book three, Moonglow, was Poppy and Winston’s story but for most people, Jack Talent and Mary Chase stole the show and left readers begging to know what their future would hold.
Jack is a shifter and Mary is a GIM (Ghost in the Machine). From their first meeting Jack recognized Mary on so many levels; he recognized her as someone from his past and as someone he wants in his future. But he knew past actions and present course would never allow for someone like Mary in his life so he did what he had to do and scorned her. He treated her like something lower than dirt and turned her away from him.
In Moonglow, Jack is taken by a raptor demon disguised as Mary Chase. He was held for too long and violated in awful, ugly ways. The result is a Jack who only seeks revenge against those who harmed him and a man who will no longer be around his family. To make matters worse, Mary Chase is the one who found and rescued Jack. Now not only does he have to live with what was done to him but he will always know that Chase saw him at his most broken.
Jack has been on the Bishop of Charing Cross case for a while with no progress. He always works alone so when Chase is assigned to work with him to say he isn’t happy is an understatement. For four years he has done his best to stay away from her even though everything in him desires her company. He has many secrets and if anyone will be the one to uncover them it will be Chase. Secrets are the least of his worries because if Jack is going to keep a wall between him and Chase the best way to do it not to be around her all the time. When they are around each other he starts to open up and let her in. She gets under his skin.
“You know more than you let on, Talent. But I do not think you so broken that you would hurt one of your own.”
Talent’s green eyes dulled. “Now there is where you are wrong. You would do well not to trust me, Chase. Whatever deeds I have or have not done, the essential truth remains that I am broken.”
Mary is on her first real case with the SOS and she is determined to solve it. But when she starts learning answers to hard questions she is not sure solving the case is what she really wants to do. Eventually she must decide between her job, Jack and the demons of her past and she doesn’t know which one will come out on top.
Shadowdance is a book full of WHAT? and OH NO SHE DIDN’T moments so it is difficult to write a review. Talking about any details of Jack and Chase’s relationship might give away large portions of the plot and I never want to do that. As with most of Ms. Callihan’s books the reader has many shocks and surprises in store for them. Things that I never thought would happen are right there on the page and we are forced to recon with them. Jack is just as dark and tortured as we knew he would be and Mary is equally complex and stubborn. They both want each other but so many obstacles prevent them from ever being able to take that step.
There were times when I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read more about plot advancement or about their romance. Both are superbly woven into the story and nothing happens without a reason. There are scenes that had me reaching for my tissue and other scenes that had me reaching for my glass of cold water. Never have I read such a scene with a simple kiss that was so much more than that kiss. Whew. The sexual tension between Jack and Mary is thick enough to drip off the pages however we are made to wait until the time is just right.
“It was always you, Mary,” he said. “From the moment we met, it was you.”
I mentioned that Jack and Mary stole the show in Moonglow and well that almost happened in Shadowdance too. There are several secondary characters that force themselves onto the pages and yell for their story. New characters and intriguing old ones now step forward and demand attention. I loved this book but I was excited when it ended because it means I am this much closer to the next book and then next one.
The Darkest London series is one that everyone should be reading. It is a wonderful blend of gothic, steampunk, historical and erotic romance. It is hard to put it into one category but if I was forced to that category would be pure excellence. If you aren’t reading these books you should be! Final grade- A
“I never understood why, is all. Why choose this?”
“Because I want to know what comes next.”
“What comes next?” Bafflement clouded his eyes, and the corners of his mouth dipped down.
“What happens the next day, and the next. Life is not a straight road, you realize. There are all sorts of bends and forks. I like wondering what will happen should I choose one road over another.”