Shades Of Winter
by Linda Fallon, historical (2003)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7432-8


Obviously the author still believes that she can think of creative ways for her hero to humiliate the heroine in this book, the sequel to Shades Of Midnight. By sequel, I do mean the same characters and all. If you're new to this series, do read the review of the previous book for the backstory.

Now, in this book, Eve Abernathy is about to get married to her ghost-hunting boyfriend Lucien Thorpe - again. The last time around, she was left standing at the aisle. This time around, she is left standing at the altar. Fortunately - or is it unfortunately? - it turns out that while investigating a haunted hotel, Lucien is possessed by several spirits conspiring to gain strength by feeding on fear and what not. While trying to save Lucien, Eve finds herself trapped in the haunted hotel with several guests - a noble widow, a misunderstood playboy, a shy woman with secrets, and a male psychic. Do the math - three couples will be having Magic Sex to save the day and vanquish the ghosts. Magic Sex is probably cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.

Like Midnight, Shades Of Winter has so much potential. I mean, come on, two ghost hunters in love? What can go wrong, right?

One, Lucien is still a jerk. What sort of a man will take off to hunt for ghosts just hours before the wedding ceremony? I'd expect the events in the last book to hammer some sense into him, but I guess I shouldn't have overestimated Lucien's intelligence. And still, like in the previous book, he doesn't apologize, he still takes Eve for granted, and Eve, the biggest fool in the world, lets him while telling me that she still loves him no matter what, oh, oh, oh. That oh-oh-oh is me groaning in pain, by the way.

Two, lazy plotting. Every problem in this book is solved by the insertion of Lucien's probe into Eve's slot. Angry ghost attack? Sex will save the day. Arguments over respect and honesty? "I want to make love to you," he will say, overriding their arguments, and the important issues that have to be worked out are swept away by the gratuitous spillages of lazy sex taking the place of character development.

There are several other secondary romances in this book, but what good are they when the main couple remain dysfunctional as ever? He still takes her for granted, treats her like she's a dumb puppy, and has Self-Entitled Sex with her whenever he wishes at his own time and convenience. She will seethe and sulk but apparently she still loves him so she's putty in his hands. Seriously, even on page 305, he still has the temerity to say he wants what is best for her, but what she wants and what is best for her is not one and the same. As far as I'm concerned, this jerk will be kicked out the door the first time he left me standing at the altar, and if he dares come back to me for some pity sex, I'd suggest he sex it up with a pair of scissors up his ass.

It is tragic how Ms Fallon ruins a potentially good paranormal romance series with her clumsy reliance on sex to mask the deficiencies in her plots and characters. Shades Of Winter leaves me in various shades of blue.

Rating: 51


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