Desert Isle Keeper
Prince of Shadows
Once in a while you run across a romance that is a wonderful, re-readable keeper in every way, but which is very difficult to review. In the case of Prince of Shadows, the difficulty in reviewing it is mainly based on having to elaborate why I love it. That’s the price of being an avid but picky reader: acerbic criticism comes more naturally to me than does glowing praise.
Alexandra Warrington is a wolf researcher who is returning to her childhood home in Minnesota when she meets Kieran Holt, an amnesiac who is rapidly revealed as a werewolf. Kieran has only scanty memories of his past, and has difficulties controlling his shape shifting. This is even more worrying since there has been a string of violent murders that easily could have been committed by a werewolf. Alexandra and Kieran are attracted to each other, but they both hesitate over their respective background; Alex worries about her physical disfigurement and the ethics of the situation, Kieran about whether he is capable of the atrocities. While trying to come to term with each other, they have to deal with several sets of adversaries, with motives ranging from old-fashioned greed and jealousy to pest control to community feeling.
Alex is levelheaded and caring at the same time. She thinks on her feet, and while her past has scarred her physically and spiritually, she is still able to reach out to Kieran and finally make friends. Her courage and sense of ethics makes her one of the strongest heroines I’ve encountered.
Kieran is a very physical man. He is protective and cuddly at the same time, yet somewhat at loss in the human world. Kieran has been separated from society for most of his life and the need to re-connect is strong. At the same time, he fears commitment as he fears his unremembered past.
Prince of Shadows is a richly populated novel, where the interaction of characters moves the story forward. The varying personalities and motives of the side-characters broadens the scope of the romance, keeping the key to the story secret until the very end. There is the friendly Julie, resident mechanic and relative of one of the victims. There is Alex’s ex-fiancé, Peter. There is old man Arnoux, a man with a mission. There is the mysterious Luke Gévaudan, another man with a mission.
While I sincerely loved Prince of Shadows, I must admit that it has some flaws that might diminish the enjoyment for other readers. The appearance of all kinds of pertinent supporting characters, especially towards the end, might give the feel of a family movie by Disney. And even I found the reason for Alex’s estrangement from her family somewhat on the cloying side.
Prince of Shadows isn’t a romance with a happy-go-lucky appeal. It is dark, slightly tortured and heart-wrenchingly sentimental, with a twisty end. It is also exactly to my taste. It is the hand-made, gourmet chocolate treasure of my keepers, the novel I sneak out to read at night when my family is asleep. And I won’t lend my copy, no matter what.