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REVIEW: Into the Shadow by Christina Dodd

Dear Ms. Dodd:

book review You are a very polished and talented writer and this entry into the Darkness Chosen series is as fast paced and readable as the others. Adrik Wilder left his family at age 17, became one of the most feared mercenaries in the world, leading a tribe of outlaws, all vying to be badder and meaner than the next. He’s settled in around the borders of Tibet and Nepal where he, as Warlord, pulls off daring raids that makes him and his dysfunctional band of bad men rich.

Karen Sonnet is the developer of adventure hotel chains. Think HGTV extreme homes only multi family dwellings. Homes in the most remote, hard to get to regions that cater to providing the thrill of a lifetime. Karen finds hers project, a new hotel on Mount Anaya set in the Himalayas, suffering the worst of luck. It’s almost like the mountain is cursed like the locals suggest. But Karen is determined to stay. She never fails. She can’t. She has to live up to the impossible expectations of her father, Jackson Sonnet, who has never given her one shred of approval. Every night, though, a secret lover comes to her and takes her body to heights unknown.

When Karen finds out her secret lover is some mercenary, she tries to flee him, but he captures her, subdues her, ties her to the bed for weeks and has his wicked way until a fight amongst mercenaries forces Adrik to let her flee. He promises to find her again.

As I said in the introduction, this is smoothly written, the pace is good, and the pages almost turn themselves, but I had some real issues with the parts of the story that were written and shown to the reader and the parts that were told to the reader.

It takes 13 chapters to set up the story. While it was 13 chapters of interesting backstory, it was backstory nonetheless. We get to see a lot of sex, blowing up, and fighting but the real emotional development, particularly for Adrik takes place completely off screen. The truth is that all the best parts, I felt, were summarized and spoon fed to me in a two paragraph flashback fashion. Adrik came to us readers as an animal and then came to us reformed. But we never got to see, bear witness to, the transformative process.

I thought that for all the build up of Karen being strong and capable, she was shown to be nothing against Adrik. He’s always, ALWAYS, in control. Yes, she can fight, build hotels, and be physically strong, but she wasn’t emotionally strong. Adrik easily manipulated her. His magical groin wand had the ultimate power over her so that even though she knew that he was a dangerous mercenary and potentially life threatening, the potency of his body was too much for her to turn away from.

I also found the dialogue of Adrik to tend toward floridity which wasn’t in keeping with his minute internal monologues. I actually never got a feel for Adrik at all. Was he the strong silent type or was he super emotional given to flowery speeches? I saw both and neither seemed very consistent. I think he was whatever the story needed him to be at the time to move the plot along or provide an emotional punch.

There was a plot point that I thought was kind of glossed over and that was Adrik’s post mercenary money making venture in which he develops an Alternate Reality computer game in one year. I doubt even a genius programmer could come up with this in a year. Ask anyone who waited years for the release of say, Riven or the next entry of Tomb Raider. (No mocking of my choice of video games).

There’s no question that you are a great storyteller. I just longed for more emotional depth. I saw it toward the end when Adrik was broken, when that part of the story was told, I was really moved and it actually worked to make me disappointed I hadn’t gotten more of that part of the story. C+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

16 Comments

  1. Krista
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 12:23:56

    Jane,

    I agree with nearly everything you said in your review. The video game in a year thing pulled me out of the story a bit, I think I read in one of the reviews on here about a book with football details that were highly unlikely to occur and how it could be annoying for someone who knows the game. That’s how I felt in regards to how the video game was mentioned.

    I was also a little taken aback that Karen would have sex with a complete stranger over and over again. Call me crazy but if a strange man climbed into my tent one night, I doubt sex would be the first thing on my mind.

    In regards to Adrik and whether he was the silent type or the emotional type, I got the feeling he was more emotional but saw it as a weakness so he covered it up with his silence.

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  2. Lisa
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 12:50:14

    Even with a C review, I was ready to read this book until I saw this bit:

    …she tries to flee him, but he captures her, subdues her, ties her to the bed for weeks and has his wicked way until a fight amongst mercenaries forces Adrik to let her flee.

    No thanks. I’m glad you warned me. I’m taking this literally or did you mean the “tie to the bed” thing figuratively?

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  3. Jane
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:01:11

    Nope, the tie to the bed is literal – with handcuffs, of sorts.

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  4. Jane
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:02:35

    I was also a little taken aback that Karen would have sex with a complete stranger over and over again. Call me crazy but if a strange man climbed into my tent one night, I doubt sex would be the first thing on my mind.

    That bothered me but I just overlooked it for the paranormal aspect but it was strange and not a little weird.

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  5. Jill D.
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:10:31

    LOL, Jane!

    His magical groin wand

    Did you really just call it that?!

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  6. Jane
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:13:51

    Seriously, it was magical. It made Karen lose all reason. Look at the comment left by Krista. The guy sneaks into her tent in an isolated location and has sex with her on a regular basis even though she never knows who he is. Then he captures her, chains her/ties her to a bed, and after she is released and she supposedly is scared of him, she sticks around to help him.

    So, it has to have magical properties, no?

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  7. Sarai
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:29:58

    LOL I have read the whole series up to this one and Ms. Dodd is my all time favorite author (she’s the one that got me hooked on romance when she wrote historicals) however, with this series I’ve had to strength the imagination a little. I look at them as fluffy read and hope she picks up the historicals again. Oh how I miss them.
    Thanks for the review.

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  8. Sarai
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:30:35

    Stretch not strength good lord where’s the spell check? or better yet diet coke?

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  9. Ember Case » Blog Archive » The day after
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:46:24

    [...] at Dear Author has what must be my favorite euphemism ever in the middle of a review today – “magical groin [...]

  10. Susan/DC
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 13:46:48

    Your review makes this sound a little like Anne Stuart’s “Black Ice”, which I read over the weekend: a hero who lives up to his billing as extremely alpha paired with a heroine who is described as tough and intelligent and alpha herself but who is not but is instead consistently overpowered and outsmarted by the hero. Your comment about Dodd’s writing skill also makes the books sound similar, in that both authors write extemely well. Unfortunately, the mismatch between the H/H significantly lowered my enjoyment of BI, and I’m afraid the same would happen here.

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  11. Monique
    Jul 08, 2008 @ 14:00:07

    I couldn’t agree more in regards to your assessment of the emotional impact of this book. I am partial to protagonists who are tortured emotionally because I can connect to them emotionally. Adrik was set up to be exactly my kind of guy and then… he fizzled. All the emotional growth was summed up in a short piece and that was it. No sense of emotional journey at all. No emotional tie to him, no nothing. This book had so much potential that I was doubly disappointed when I read it and I went out the day it was released to get it. As for tying Karen to the bed, it didn’t turn me off because at no time is there ever any intent to hurt her, ever. Adrik is exceedingly protective of Karen.

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  12. DS
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 05:17:46

    I assume the tying up thing is there to appeal to a bondage fantasy. But even without menaces, I find nonconsenual tying to the bed to be at best creepy.

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  13. Ciara
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 12:39:58

    YES! You hit the nail on the head. I really enjoyed the first two books, but this:

    But we never got to see, bear witness to, the transformative process.

    The transformative process is what a story is all about! It was completely off stage. This was a modern Bodice Ripper. PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome… sigh. I’ll spare you my rant about the romanticization of rape. Suffice to say, violent obsession does not equal love.

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  14. Janine
    Jul 09, 2008 @ 13:33:55

    Your review makes this sound a little like Anne Stuart's “Black Ice”, which I read over the weekend: a hero who lives up to his billing as extremely alpha paired with a heroine who is described as tough and intelligent and alpha herself but who is not but is instead consistently overpowered and outsmarted by the hero.

    I’ve read Black Ice five or six times and I don’t remember any intimation that Chloe was alpha. Are you sure you aren’t thinking of Ice Storm?

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  15. Susan/DC
    Jul 10, 2008 @ 12:15:57

    Of course, you’re correct: it was “Ice Storm”, not “Black Ice” (which i haven’t read). As if I needed any more evidence of my deteriorating mental functions . . . .

    I want to add that I like the cover of the Dodd book. This guy truly looks like the character, at least as I imagine him. Dangerous, attractive, and altogether dangerously attractive. I think it’s the hair the and eyes.

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  16. Lisa
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 14:01:57

    Just finished this during an insomniac night. I was massively underwhelmed. I didn’t get any romantic chemistry and found my suspension of disbelief a little too suspended. Didn’t care much for Karen’s dad’s revelations and personality reversal either.

    This whole series seems like it’s too fluffy for the actual premise of the books. Adrick wasn’t that evil (since the people he tended to kill – I think only 3 were “shown” or mentioned – deserved it). I know, killing = bad in general, but in genre fiction I buy the vigilante badness as good.

    Working in elearning, I know building real 3D simulations is a massive undertaking, and by no means could it be accomplished in 2 years (with 1 year being in the mining pit!).

    ReplyReply

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