While their criminal activity is simply a rumor yet to be proven, no one knows the real truth. The Ferraros are a family of shadow riders capable of manipulating light and dark, an ability Stefano thought ran in his family alone—until now…
With little left to her name, Francesca Cappello has come to Chicago in hopes of a new life. She wasn’t expecting to attract the attention of a man with primal hunger in his eyes, driven to claim her as his to protect and to please. And if he discovers her secret, it could ruin her...
Comment: As soon as I've read a certain book in the Carpathian series that was a long time coming, I've taken the decision to not read more books by Christine Feehan. There are some books by her I've loved, but the last books didn't convince me and I struggled to go through them. This meant I only went forward with reading this one because it was the choice for my book club and maybe - don't we all always hope for magic - this book was a return to her best work and it would be amazing? After 4 or 5 chapters I knew it wouldn't be fun...
This book is the first of a new series and will certainly feature the Ferraro family. This first book presents the oldest of several siblings, Stefano Ferraro and how he recognizes the woman for him when someone from his family's neighborhood brings a unknown woman to ask for a job at a deli. The new woman seems to be struggling, her clothes aren't appropriate for the cold weather and she clearly needs help. More important than that, she is a Rider like Stefano.
Francesca is hiding from a dangerous man, she has nothing and was one step from being homeless but her friend Joanna said she could help and got her an interview at a deli. Meeting Stefano was a shock because he is everything Francesca is not, sophisticated, rich, attractive, confident... but there's a deeper connection between them. Can Francesca accept to be a part of Stefano's world?
Where to start? While I was reading, I kept thinking about things I should mention in this comment because they annoyed me to no end. It seems incredible to me how so many readers don't see the flaws in this book the way I did. Thankfully, diversity exists and everyone can have an opinion, otherwise, poor author!
Let me try to go by topics so I can convey why this book felt like such a disappointment to me.
1) The concept of the book is quite good. Strange people that can ride the shadows like if they were a special route or path only some can take. How could this influence others' lives and how did it work were things barely addressed in the story, and to me there wasn't much development about it. Sure, maybe this will become more and more important as future installments come out (as it seems to) but then why did it took around 400 pages to tell us this?
2) The heroine was first described as someone poor, in need of help and a job and overwhelmed by the new rich family she meets. She soon realizes the new people are overly protective and controlling. Sure, she's hiding from someone dangerous but would someone who's already burned just accept a stranger controlling her life, her steps, her routines? And more, not only accepting but embracing it? Not to mention the little detail but that hugely annoyed me that Francesca simply didn't ask questions, would anyone in this modern age just accept the word from a stranger, especially if she had reasons to be suspicious and not demand explanations about him, the weird behavior of others and all the apparent secrets that were being hidden from her but that affected her current daily life?
3) I know the point is to see how well matched Stefano and Francesca are and how trust is important but Stefano takes this too far, he acts as if Francesca can just assume everything about him and it has to be a positive thinking, she has to accept his ideas, behavior, knowledge, control, protection because he knows best, he does not explain things to her as he should but if she tries to leave to think about it or if she's suspicious about this or that, he immediately accuses her of running and not trusting him! How can this be considered romantic or acceptable?
There are more little things I could point out but this got to my nerves. It's repetitive, all secondary characters' POV about the Ferraro family is understandable considering the mafia-like environment, but where's the personality in everyone?
I can understand why some readers appreciate this, I don't mind if a hero wants to help and prove his superiority somehow but the relationship has to be reasonable, balanced. Both parts must act sanely and Stefano was too demanding and at some point even told Francesca "you're never going to be independent". I don't consider me a radical feminist, but this made me angry. Francesca didn't seem to gain a backbone and despite all the right she has to want to raise children, she keeps saying she doesn't want to be a kept woman, but then easily accepts to be something like it.
The shadow business disappoint me too and even the talk about Francesca being one was almost put aside. It fit the need for her to be a mate for Stefano but then, nothing.
I'll stop now. I wanted to scream at the characters not to act like that. I know mrs Feehan said her books always will have a darker tone/setting/environment because it's the way her wok is, but everything is always too gloom and the fun or lighter moments seem mechanic actions meant to distract. I don't know, but I miss a better base and a strong, believable development.
Fans will still like it, many have, but for me...it is over.