Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ARC Review: Shadow Reaper by Christine Feehan

Series:     Shadow #2
Pub. Date:May 30, 2017
Length:480 pages

Christine Feehan has created such a unique series with her Shadow Riders... a sect of humans with the paranormal ability to "ride" shadow tubes, which allows them to travel place to place very quickly and undetected. The purpose of the supernatural Shadow Riders is to mete out justice to the derelict and deserving, usually those operating in the underbelly of society. In this second installment of the series, the Ferraro family finds itself the target of a dangerous plot which will see them suffering injuries and death before all is said and done.

If you have read Shadow Rider, you will remember that Ricco Ferraro was the darker and more mysterious of the Ferraro clan. He was broody and dangerous and reckless. After a near-death experience (one of many it appears), Ricco's family lays down the law that he has to shape up or Stefano will take him off the Rider rotation. This drives Ricco to look for a rope model that will allow him to lose himself in the art of Shibari. Ricco was the Ferraro whom I was most drawn to in Shadow Rider, as I have always had a thing for the dark and broody bad boy. I liked the amount of character development that we had for Ricco. The things he went through as a teenager, and the level of stress and responsibility he felt thereafter definitely created a level of despondency and desperation for our hero. I am impressed that he he held it together for as long as he did. But when Ricco finds his matching Shadow Rider, things are not going to be smooth sailing - especially as she has come to kill him.

Mariko Majo is a tortured heroine who has sought Ricco Ferraro out of desperation. The victim of a terrible tragedy at a young age, Mariko was raised by a woman who loathed her. She is looked down up on in Japan due to her gender and mixed heritage, and is treated abominably by a bitter and somewhat mad harpy. Luckily Mariko was allowed to train as a Shadow Rider so at least she has a small outlet for her stress, which was necessary given the self-esteem and self-worth issues that were created by her childhood. I understood Mariko's issues and my heart went out to her... but sometimes I wish she would have considered Ricco's words and actions instead of getting caught up in her own head. Otherwise, she was a sympathetic heroine and you feel bad for her most of the book.

This series falls into the fated mates trope, so once our couple finds each other, the relationship proceeds forward at a steady clip. I do think that Ricco was patient with Mariko and allowed her to become used to him instead of pushing her into something she wasn't ready for. There was a good amount of sexual tension between the couple, which was only amplified by the Shibari sessions. I thought the art and bondage aspect of the story was interesting, and got my curiosity involved enough to be Googling the various Shibari terms, poses and rope patterns.

At times, I found the plot conflict to be more interesting than the romance. In fact, I thought some of the Shibari sessions and sexytimes were a bit too long and I started skimming them to get back to the storyline. Mariko was sent to find the Ferraros on a pretense, and I liked solving the puzzle and conspiracy along with the characters. The investigation into past events and present problems was broken up by bouts of action and danger, which helped advance the plot and keep it from dragging overmuch. 

I continue to like the inner workings of the tight-knit Ferraro family. I like to see them get together to argue, tease and bond with one another. I am eagerly anticipating the next book, and wonder which Ferraro Feehan will deliver next.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley.