This is the third book in Crane’s romantic suspense series, The Associates. Although each can be read as a stand alone, there is an over reaching arc that threads through the books; some readers might find themselves a bit lost with missing information.
Thorne McKelvey has been working his way up the notorious Hangman game for years. No one knows that he’s really a plant for Dax, the head of the super-secret spy ring, The Associates. Many years ago, Dax noticed Thorne’s skills and made a deal with him. Dax would give him the new identity of the man who murdered his sister in return for working for him. Since then, Thorne’s focus has been to getting to the top of the gang food chain to take out his sister’s murderer and give Dax the names for of the crooked politicians, judges and cops aiding them. Unfortunately, he fell for the wrong woman in the process.
In the past two years, Nadia Volkov’s life has changed drastically from being the pampered mob princess she was raised as. The man she fell in love with (and knocked her up) left her high and dry. Shortly thereafter, her father was gunned down. Nadia has had only her sister and her former bodyguard, Richard, to help her raise her son, Benny. While going through the family house, she discovers a treasure trove of information about her father’s business in human trafficking and a picture that leads her to believe that her mother might be alive. Nadia manages to convince Richard into helping her raid the workhouses to find her mother. It’s these very raids that bring Thorne back to her doorstep.
Thorne is being fingered as the rat and he desperately has to find the CD that he knows is hidden in his former boss’s house. He’s shocked to find not only Nadia still living at the house, but a young child too. After Nadia gave birth to Benny, she was relieved that Thorne ditched her before she was able to tell him she was pregnant. She doesn’t want Benny to have the criminal life she grew up in. Thorne’s reemergence in her life is putting everything she’s worked for the last two years into jeopardy. Time is running out for both of them as they frantically try to complete their missions and come to some stalemate.
Let’s just say that Thorne is one HOT mess of a man. His parents were deadbeats who sold their kids off. He blames himself for his sister’s death even though it wasn’t his fault. Thorne survived being tortured by scorpions and escaping by breaking his own hand. ROUGH, right? Then the Party Princess comes along and they play some dirty kinky games. Thorne has never had anyone care about him in his entire life, so why would he believe that Nadia would?
Nadia felt like Thorne is the only person who ever saw past the superficial exterior. She was devastated when he dropped her without a second look. The second go-around for the couple has both of them dancing warily around each other while Thorne lights fires with some dirty talking. The sexual tension is incredible and the payoff sweet. I could’ve done with a little more of their backstory, but that’s minor.
If you enjoy suspense, the action is pretty much nonstop. Though the main mystery wasn’t that hard to figure out, puzzling out where the author will be taking these characters still has my brain spinning. The ending was a bit predictable but that didn’t negate any of the enjoyment of the story. Crane has, once again, written intelligent unusual (did I mention Thorne is a Bruce Lee devotee?) characters with a fast paced story full of high suspense and sexual tension.
*ARC courtesy of CrushStar Multimedia
Click to purchase: Amazon
Into the Shadows
by Carolyn Crane
Release Date: July 16, 2014