Review: Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul

29 May

Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul
Harlequin (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373776351

Favorite Lines: “With no warning, she felt pain explode behind her eyes. She saw an intense flash of light before her remaining vision tunneled. Her hands, which had been lightly gripping her camera, jerked violently, snapping the strap around her neck.” (p. 16, e-galley)

Natalie Jones is the lucky survivor of an elusive killer who preys on young women and then disappears from view. And since her harrowing ordeal, the once gutsy photojournalist has remained isolated in her home, paralyzed by fear and her failing vision.

Special Agent Liam “Mac” McKenzie has scars of his own. But despite his efforts to ignore the attraction that simmers between him and Natalie, he needs her help to catch a predator. Soon, they will forge a tentative alliance—charged with desire. Through a soft-focus lens, Natalie dares to envision a future with Mac beyond the investigation…never guessing that the clues hidden within her photographs are drawing them into an explosive confrontation with a madman.

Shades of Desire is a romantic suspense that pairs an attack survivor with a special agent of California’s Department of Justice Special Investigations Group. Both the hero and heroine are emotionally damaged, but they have even more to overcome as the heroine has recently become blind due to a genetic disease.

On the whole I enjoyed Shades of Desire. As a romance, not so much. I didn’t feel the instant attraction between Natalie and Mac. It felt abrupt and forced, especially the sex scene. I didn’t even want Mac and Natalie together.

Mac is a good investigator and a better asshole. He’s a recovering alcoholic and a permanent workaholic. He’s also divorced. This has left him a jaded individual which is immediately shown when an officer asks him if he misses his ex-wife.

Mac hesitated before answering, but it was a hesitation born out of guilt rather than indecision. His instinctive response seemed unfair to the woman he’d once loved enough to marry, but he answered truthfully anyway. “I miss someone being there when I get home sometimes, but I don’t miss her.”–p. 20

He’s all about moving from case to case and avoiding any emotional entanglements. This means when he meets the heroine Natalie, he doesn’t know how to deal with his attraction for her other than to bury it. He reacts in a surly, often jealous manner. He was snippy to Natalie and I really didn’t get her attraction for him.

Natalie was no easy heroine though. She was abused as a child and had known since she was 17 that she might go blind. She threw up walls to keep people out and tried to enforce those walls by being cold.

A well-known photographer, Natalie isn’t dealing with her loss of sight very well. That is believable. But what bothered me about her is that she is a pushover. She calls herself staying alone to protect herself since one can only count on oneself. But she let a ditzy assistant in and let the woman stay her friend even though the flaky lady enabled the killer to get his hands on Natalie. She became friends with a lady officer during the short time the woman was on guard duty. And she fell even quicker for Mac. I think when faced with an eternity alone Natalie took the first guy to show interest.

The suspense plot line was average. For me the best parts of it involved Natalie being attacked. Since she’s blind she can’t see it coming, but I could. Otherwise it was no big thing. I don’t want to give it away, but it slowly unravels as the couple’s relationship builds.

Shades of Desire is book one in DePaul’s Special Investigations Groups Series. It introduces the reader to the group and hints at a possible future relationship between two secondary character. The book was okay. I won’t be recommending it to anyone, I wasn’t awed by it and won’t be re-reading it. Consider borrowing it from the library if you plan to read it.

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