Standing in the Shadows
Now this is erotica.
To put it bluntly, Shannon McKenna’s Standing in the Shadows is the most erotic erotica I’ve come across in a very long time. She doesn’t rely on creepy fetishes or kinky sex play. She’s never, ever crude. Her characters are real, interesting, grown-up people and, to top it all off, her suspense story is a good one.
Connor McCloud is one of those heroes on the skids. And let’s just say he’s got baggage – boy, does he have baggage! In love for many years with Erin, the daughter of a bad cop who got his comeuppance partially at Connor’s hands in Ms. McKenna’s previous release Behind Closed Doors, the ex-cop turned private investigator learns at the start of the story that Novak and his henchman Georg (the uber-villains who also figured in Behind Closed Doors) have escaped from prison. The skeptical Connor isn’t buying for one minute reports of European sightings of the lethal twosome. He’s convinced – though the cops and his brothers don’t share his belief – that Novak’s real goal is to once again threaten Erin, their kidnap victim in (yes, you’ve got it) Behind Closed Doors.
Erin doesn’t think she needs protecting. particularly not by the man with whom she’s been infatuated since she was a teenager. Now an expert on Celtic antiquities, she’s been called upon to evaluate objects owned by a mysterious gazillionaire, a job that is an especially welcome one to the financially desperate young woman. Though she’s never actually met the elusive collector before, she doesn’t take kindly to Connor’s cautions about the overnight trip the evaluation involves, along with a possible meeting with her benefactor. A bodyguard – especially one with whom she has long been in lust – is the last thing she needs.
Of course, Connor is right. Novak (talk about a sicko!) is back and he has already set into motion an elaborate scheme directly targeting Erin and the mother and sister she loves.
Frankly, while the suspense story is a good one, what really drew me in here were the characters (primarily Connor) and, oh, yeah, the love scenes. Connor is a magnificent specimen of the “troubled” hero just aching for a good woman to fix him right up and Erin, who is far from the fairy tale princess Connor has always imagined her to be, is the right woman for the job. Though in the latter part of the book Erin becomes the kind of character who insists she can take care of herself even when it’s patently obvious that she can’t, she is also a vibrant, intelligent young woman who has never known real sexual fulfillment and who is more than ready to embrace what life (and Connor) have to offer. Their love-making is passionate, human, tender, and – oh, yeah, – very, very hot. These are love scenes for the big boys and girls and I absolutely loved them.
As for quibbles, since I hadn’t read the previous book (though, believe me, I will) the first 100 pages or so involved so much exposition that it got a bit complicated and was not nearly as interesting as what followed (in comparison it was almost dull). But soon enough, the story got rolling and I never looked back. Equally, while I loved Connor, Erin did occasionally get on my nerves with her stubborn insistence on doing things her way or the highway. You know, admitting that you’re not an expert on criminal behavior and don’t have the instincts of a cop doesn’t equate in my mind for even one minute with being stupid or not being a strong, confident woman. Sometimes it pays to listen to the experts and that’s a lesson it takes Erin a bit too long to learn.
But, what the hey? As erotica goes, this book is very, very, very good – something that is becoming rarer and rarer these days. As someone who loves the lyrical eroticism of Judith Ivory and the passion of early Susan Johnson, Shannon McKenna is a definite find and an author I certainly intend to keep an eye on.