REVIEW: Shadows at Midnight by Elizabeth Jennings
Dear Ms. Jennings:
I don’t think it is any secret I enjoyed this book. It sent me on an EJ/LMR glom which I blogged about a month ago. Weirdly I thought this book was a September release but alas it is an August release thus my belated recommendation and review.
While I totally sucked this book up like desert traveler at the only oasis for a 500 mile radius, it is not without its flaws. There are plot holes bigger than aforementioned oasis but none of the plot holes affected my enjoyment of the story.
Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Weston is an uncomplicated character. He saw Claire Day and instantly knew he wanted her. As he says in the first page, he had moved heaven and earth to be next to her but an uprising in Laka brought their brief acquaintance to an end. An explosion occurred and Daniel believed that she was dead. Claire, however, had survived but suffered amnesia from the head trauma unable to remember much about the day, her time in Laka, or Daniel.
The primary voice of the book is Daniel’s and he is both entertaining and likeable and his yen for Claire makes him sexy and endearing. In this book, Daniel has really only one goal: Claire. He wants to protect her, love her, provide for her in whatever way she will allow him to.
Claire was the resident Embassy DIA analysis known to be blonde, smart, and dedicated. Her world has turned to ash since the Embassy bombing. She lost her mother years ago and her father recently. She has nightmares constantly but of unknown origin and unknown meaning, likely related to the bombing. Her daily companions, you write are “physical and mental weakness, a constant feeling of sliding into a deep, black hole, a huge wall of glass between her and the rest of humanity.” She can’t remember the last time she felt the loving touch of another human being. She is at the very end of her tether.
By happenstance Claire, in Florida, is watching the news when a report of about heroes is aired and one Daniel Weston from Washington, D.C., is profiled as a result of his rescuing two children and their mother from a burning building. Claire recognizes him and some instinct drives her to seek him out. Maybe Daniel Weston can help her recreate the loss of her memories surrounding the her time at the Embassy.
Daniel has spent a year of frustrated celibacy taking women out and having to leave them unfulfilled on their doorstep because Claire Day is in his head and even he knows he should move on, he can’t. When she arrives on his doorstep, it’s like every holiday, birthday, joyous occasion rolled into one event. Claire is back. But Claire remembering Daniel triggers her enemies into action and Daniel needs all of his marine skill to keep her alive.
The story isn’t as physically sexy as some of her earlier books but the sexual tension permeates nearly every page. And Claire, while physically and mentally weak, has enough of a character that I didn’t want to pummel her. And for Daniel, it couldn’t have been anyone but Claire. That message was so brilliant throughout the story. It is really a story all about Daniel and his relentless determination to save the most precious thing in the world to him, no matter what.
Seeing the romance through the male point of view is interesting, particularly looking at it from the female gaze. As I’ve said before, I don’t know if this is what real men think like, but it sounds like what real men think like so that is enough believability for me. Daniel is so into protecting Claire, that he even feels like he has to protect her from his own animal lusts.
Anyone unfamiliar with Jennings voice will have to be prepared for exaggerated descriptions of Daniel’s lust. Everything about him is outsized. His strength, determination, and desire. The consistency of Daniel’s character makes the exaggerations seem normal. But if Daniel’s intensity is found to be creepy then I doubt the reader would enjoy this story. For me, though, the plot holes were forgivable, the recycled bits from other stories (including the suspense as well as the hero and heroine’s professions) were only slightly irritating, and Daniel really appealed to me thus my response to this book was very positive. There was no question in my mind that Daniel and Claire would be happy for the rest of their lives, no matter where they were, no matter what they had, so long as they were together. That’s the essence of the romance for me. B