Shades Of Scarlet
by Linda Fallon, historical/paranormal (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7433-6


Third in a series, previous books being Shades Of Midnight and Shades Of Winter.

I'm pleasantly surprised by this one. I'm far from impressed with the previous books that rely too much on sex, but in Shades Of Scarlet, Eve Thorpe's character experiences growth. Lucien, her husband, is still an overbearing selfish freak and if I have my way, Eve will still run away at the end of the book for greener pastures, but still, not bad at all, really.

This time around, ghost hunters Eve and Lucien are finally married. But now she wants a kid and he doesn't. Because the world according to Lucien is a cold and uncaring world. He should know, being the selfish jackass that he is. These two investigate the haunted Glover mansion where Lucien dreams of two twin sisters, Isabelle and Margaret, being raped by Union deserters and one of them bore a child - with tragic events to follow. A mysterious fire ended up killing both sisters, the boy Tommy, and a mysterious man. Now, Eve and Lucien must investigate the mystery to banish the ghosts. But Eve will soon find herself struggling with a deeper issue here as Tommy arouses more mommy issues in her than wise. A surprise appearance of a by-blow from Lucien's past will only reinforce what a moronic jackass that Lucien is.

I like Eve this time around and I really feel for her confusion in this story. In fact, Eve really grows as a person in this book as she deals with real issues of her relationship with Lucien. However, the author is as usual guilty of using sex to substitute any genuine heartfelt resolution between Eve and Lucien, alternately peppering the story with the usual "she was his since from the start" claptrap that means absolutely nothing at the end of the day. In fact, Shades Of Scarlet is actually closer to 100,001 Reasons Why Lucien Must Die So That Eve Will Be Free. The best scene in this book is when Eve, in a ghostly haze, finds a semblance of peace when she decides that she doesn't want to care about Tommy or Lucien or anybody anymore. I am cheering her at that scene to just pack up and leave the useless man that is slowly suffocating her day by day. It is rather sad that Eve's most adult and happy moment is when she decides, in a rare moment of sobriety, to care for herself for once. And then she's back to "normal" and I feel like sighing as she goes back to that Ass With Legs that she calls her husband.

Run away, Eve. You deserve better. If Egon can find his Janine, you will find your Peter Venkman one day. Just keep looking, Eve, and most importantly, just keep running.

Rating: 70


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