Shadows at Midnight
by Elizabeth Jennings
Paperback: 320 pages
Available: August 3, 2010
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Claire Day is a spook, a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) analyst. She’s scary intelligent and sharp, dedicated, strong but not hard or bitchy and after the bombing her coma and PTSD have turned her into a frail, ghost of the woman she used to be but her core strength is still there. When she realizes someone is out to get and hurt her, she rises like a phoenix from the ashes (almost literally) and puts her sharp mind at work to find out who is after her and why.
Claire is not alone in her quest for the truth of what exactly happened in Laka a year earlier. By coincidence she finds Gunnery Sergeant Dan (Daniel) Weston who was the Detachment Commander of the Marine Security Guard at the time of the bombing. She decides to go to him to see if he can help her fill the gaps in her memory. Dan is brave, hard, serious, solid and steadfast, he has a buried sense of humor that sneaked out sometimes and made me smile a lot reading this book.
Dan is the stereotype military romance hero: his mother abandoned him when he was little, he was abused by his good-for-nothing alcoholic junkie dad, and was heading for juvie or death when military service saved him. And yet I found him refreshing in his attraction to Claire, which is disarming and makes him a sweet smitten guy in a tough shell. He puts a tight leash on his desires but the glimpses of him losing control, unleashing his darkest desires were enticing. He wanted to give into his lust for Claire and at the same time protect her from it as not to scare or hurt her.
I really fell hard for Dan and adored and admired Claire. They are so good for each other they made me root for them throughout the book. Equality, sincerity and trust come to mind thinking about them, despite Dan regularly going into alpha male, protective mode. Separate they are awesome in their fields, together they are an unstoppable force and they feed off each other’s strengths.
Dan is the fierce, sometimes possessive protector, the straightforward, tough Marine who could be so sweet and caring, endearingly crushing on Claire. From his POV he almost made me fall in love with Claire myself. And then there’s resilient, brave, and smart as a whip Claire whose loss and powerlessness just broke my heart but she never gave up, kept hope in her darkest days and fought her way to her HEA
Dan and Claire made the love scenes hot and endearing at the same time, no embellishments or facades, just two people desiring each other and needing to express that in the most basal way. These scenes were so beautiful they gave me goose bumps. Without explicitness they sketched the pure passion that grew and came to roaring life between them.
Another thing that this book gave me was subtle humor in small doses, especially in Dan’s POV and character. Some of his internal dialogues were really funny. The humor worked so well for me because of the small dose it was delivered in. This was very appropriate as it’s a romantic suspense novel and not a romantic comedy.
SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT took me from West Africa to the US and back to West Africa, through the POVs of Dan, Claire, a very disturbed villain who is revealed very early in the story, and an abundance of minor secondary characters a great romantic suspense unfolds that kept me reading late at night just to find out what would happen next. I like to have the POV of the villain in my romantic suspense reads and Elizabeth Jennings definitely delivered for me there. Paranoid doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s power-hungry, narcissistic and suffering from delusions of his own grandeur.
Some of the secondary characters really make me hope there will be more stories in this setting. Marcus, the DC police detective and Jesse, Dan’s Marine buddy were the ones who captured my attention. Jesse in particular as he’s a quiet one, not a man of many words, and we all know what they say about the quiet ones
SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT is a perfect blend of suspense and romance with great characters. With its fast-paced and action-packed suspense that included a paranoid and evil to the core villain, its poignant romance rife with identifiable emotions, its subtle humor and its beautiful unembellished and undiluted love scenes, SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT ticked all the boxes for me and delivered in a way that totally took me by surprise, steamrolling its way onto my 2010 favorite books list!
He could smell individual bits of her and they all smelled wonderful. Freshly shampooed hair, some lemony lotion on her hands and something fresh and spring like that he imagined was the smell of her skin. Jesus, he’d like to smell all that up close. Just put his nose next to her neck and inhale, even though he doubted she’d like him pulling a dog imitation on her.
He’d made love for hours to Claire, as if joining his body to hers could create a magical aura of protection, as if the more time he spent inside her, the safer she’d be. If he could have, he’d have tucked her right into his own body and kept her there.
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