Twisted Shadows began with a scene that grabbed me and drew me in. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to its early potential. Too many characters and a breakneck pace marred a potentially interesting story; it’s tough to enjoy a book when so much is going on that the reader gets lost.
Samantha Carroll’s life takes a turn for the unbelievable one day when two thugs show up in her art gallery. They intimidate her and tell her that her biological father is a mobster who’s dying and wants to see her before his death. Samantha can’t believe what she hears, especially since it means her whole life has essentially been a lie and that her mother was responsible for keeping her past a secret. To her astonishment Samantha finds out she has a brother, Nicholas, and her real name is Nicole Merritt. Once Sam comes to believe the story and the documentation the thugs provide, she really wants to meet her brother. So she goes to Boston to meet her long-lost family, and multiple attempts on her life ensue.
As I mentioned, the opening scenes really draw the reader in. The two thugs appear to Sam, lay the story and some birth certificates on her, and expect her to go with them. Sam is justifiably thrown. Potter gives readers a great sense of how Samantha is reeling from this information. It doesn’t take her very long to believe them, and she charges off to meet her family, even though she knows that they’re mobsters. Potter set this situation up so well that I understood Sam’s curiosity perfectly.
Sam is a straight arrow, the antithesis of her birth father. Although he’s a gangster worth millions, she refuses to take anything from him. What is most important to Sam is family, and she proves that many times over. She makes a number of efforts to get know her brother, even after being rebuffed several times.
Nicholas Merritt can’t believe that the mother and sister he was told died in a car accident are really alive. Nick has tried to go legit and get away from his family, and for Sam’s own good, he tries not to let her get too close.
FBI Special Agent Nathan McLean has pursued the Merritta family relentlessly over the years. They were responsible for his mother’s death. He finds out about Sam/Nicole being the long-lost daughter coming to town, and he plans to use her to get evidence he’s been unable to gather any other way. Nate is tough and bitter, but he finds himself attracted to Sam. He saves her from a murder attempt when she gets to the airport and spends the rest of the book trying to protect her. At first Nate’s behavior verges on that of a stalker, and it goes beyond what is right. He is bitter toward the family, and his bitterness blinds him to the fact that Sam’s brother might be innocent.
I have to admit that my favorite relationship here is the one that develops between Nick and Samantha. Nate and Samantha have a romance, but it’s tinged with dark overtones because of his fixation on Sam’s family. Eventually the relationship takes on a protective nature, but it still had an odd vibe.
The suspense in the book is too overwhelming to totally enjoy. The story moves at such a fast pace that it’s hard to keep track of the plot threads, which include: why Sam and her mom disappeared; why Sam’s father wants to see her; who wants Sam dead; and why someone wants her dead. Oh, and also the reason why Nate hates the Merritts, which isn’t explained soon enough to make his obsession reasonable.
Twisted Shadows isn’t bad. The relationship between Sam and her brother is a good one, but too much story spread across too few chapters make it difficult to follow. The bones of a good book are here, but the end result is that neither the romance nor the suspense are fully successful; the hero’s fixation on the Merritt crime family manages to overwhelm both to some degree.