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REVIEW: Into the Shadows by Carolyn Crane

Into the Shadows Crane

Dear Carolyn Crane:

When I first learned of you as an author, you were writing a speculative romantic fiction which won rave reviews from people I trust. However when I tried it, I was confused and I turned away likely not giving it the chance it deserved. I’m not certain who recommended the second book in the associate series to me but I read it and found it was a memorable and unique romantic suspense.

The third Associates book came upon me so quickly I did not have time to read the first book as I intended however because of the way in which the series is written, it appears that you could pick up any one book in the series and not be lost or feel like you have missed anything.

This story is about Thorne and while the heroine is a strong and interesting character, the character with the most progression is the operative Thorne. Thorne was the son of an irresponsible trust fund baby and a poor woman that Thorne’s father would remember from time to time.

Addicted to alcohol and drugs, Thorne’s father decides to sell his sister to pay for a drug debt. Enraged, Thorne attempts to infiltrate the gang at a young age and save his sister. He does not succeed. But he gains revenge by killing those who were involved in her death, one by one until he reaches the last – Jerrod. Jerrod is the ruler of the Hangmen, one of the Quartet, a group of gangs that have split the deceased king Victor Volkov’s territory.

Thorne has held off killing Jerrod at the request of Dex, the leader of the Associates. The Quartet is protected at the highest levels, by DEA officers, politicians, and the like. In order to gain knowledge of the those protecting and facilitating the Quartet, Thorne has to take control of the Hangmen. When Thorne was infiltrating the gangs, he met and fell in love with Nadia, one of Victor’s daughters.

He crunched the Bugles in time with his pounding pulse, remembering the way Nadia had let him into the tender, private parts of her life, the way they’d secretly knocked around in other towns together, and the wild fierceness of the love he felt for her. He hadn’t understood that he’d been nothing but a brutish fuck toy to her, interchangeable and shareable. Even after he realized that, he still couldn’t stop loving her, though his love had flipped over into what he could only term lovehate. But for while, she’d made him feel like somebody good.

Thorne’s power comes from believing that death is nothing to fear. In the end, when he has gained everything, the question becomes is he weaker or stronger? Does he lose his power when he fears loss and death?

I’m talking about Thorne because he’s the biggest part of the book, dominating the scenes he is in and lingering on the periphery during the scenes when he’s not present. Nadia, Victor’s daughter is a competent and capable individual. She’s learned to be proficient in gun use and being part of a secret team as she starts hitting various hideaways full of illegal laborers, stashes of iPhones, cash and drugs of the Quartet as she searches for her mother–a stolen girl made into a prostitute by Victor and then discarded.

But Thorne is almost super heroic – a brooding Bruce Wayne who hangs from the rafters, drops down and disables his prey one by one. He started out as a closed up character and changed by the end. Nadia is more static. Her transformation occurred off stage and before the book begins and her quest is more simple. Find her mother. Protect her son. Try not to fall in love with Thorne again.

Into the Shadows feeds into that yen for the dark, damaged hero like catnip for felines. Can’t wait for the next Associates novel. B+

Best regards,



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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Amanda
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 14:17:31

    I’ve seen reviews for this book popping up all over the place, but I’d resisted because I couldn’t get into her previous novels. Sounds like this one might be worth a shot.

  2. marjorie
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 14:58:07

    For me, the second Associates book (Macmillan — sue me, I forget the actual book’s name and incidentally I do not understand why so MANY romance novels have generic titles, like action movies, and I’m sounding like Andy Rooney right now, aren’t I HEY YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN) by far the best. AMAZEBALLS. Super-smart, super-funny and super-hot. (I’d take any one of those three things, and she delivered bigtime on all three.) Two extremely verbal leads, real emotional stakes. (Plus extra points for the Courtney-Milan-level writing and research — girlfriend knows from linguistics — which doesn’t often appear in action-suspense-y romance. And the setting and plot were SO refreshing and different.) LURVED LURVED LURVED.

    I liked Thorne’s book but thought it was a bit heavy-handed (TRUST, dude’s gotta learn TRUST, got it) and I agree with Jane that Nadia’s kind of static. But after the 2nd Associates book, Crane became an auto-buy for me.

    (BTW, I loved Crane’s Disillusionist books, tho I’d not call them romance — the worldbuilding is so creative, and she does damaged protagonists so well. Mr. Real wasn’t my thing — too rom-commy for me. And I liked the first Associates book a lot — again, really clever, but I had problems with the female lead and the dynamic between Angel and Cole. I got what she was going for but it didn’t work for me. But points for verisimilitude: I had to Google “Fenton Furst” to see if it was an actual safe manufacturer!)

  3. shuzluva
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 15:27:51

    Ok. Amazon here I come. You know I loved the Disillusionist series so hard that I’m absolutely willing to give this author a shot in another sub-genre.

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