Title: Crooked Shadows
Series: Whitethorn Agency: Book Two
Author: M.A. Grant
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 294 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: The “To Be Continued” conclusion to Crooked Shadows couldn’t be more perfect if it tried, and the revelation that happens there, after all the chaos that Cristian and Atlas have gone through to get where they are, is dramatic perfection.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Everyone has secrets. Especially those who live in the shadows.
Cristian Slava doesn’t fear much. After he was betrayed by the man he called an uncle, leaving upstate New York for the Carpathian Mountains of his childhood is more a matter of practicality than fear. With him is Atlas Kinkaid, a former marine turned fierce bodyguard…and fierce lover, albeit a hell of a complicated one.
Cristian’s cunning is tested by the politics and intrigue of the vampire families of Romania, and the warm welcome he and Atlas were assured of quickly turns to ash as they race to unravel the mystery of an old friend’s disappearance. Searching for the missing vampire draws them into a web of betrayal and half-truths that reaches further than Cristian ever could have imagined, and they uncover a string of grisly murders that bear a striking similarity to the attack that changed Atlas’s life forever.
Stalked by the past and uncertain of the future, Cristian learns he does have something to fear after all…
Losing the man he loves.
Review: “Travel through some war zones and you’ll realize how far people will go to protect those they care for.” ~ Atlas Kinkaid
Yet again, author M.A. Grant has left me absolutely beside myself with anticipation for another of her books. The paragraphs that bring Crooked Shadows to its “To Be Continued” conclusion couldn’t be more perfect if they tried, and the revelation that happens there, after all the chaos that Cristian and Atlas have gone through to get where they are, is dramatic perfection. Everything leading up to that point is a riot of emotions as the men arrive in Romania, the place where Atlas was brutally attacked and left scarred and traumatized after, in search of a lead on who is creating and weaponizing feral vampires. Little could they have anticipated they’d be walking into a territorial dispute that will ultimately threaten their lives as they search for Cristian’s missing friend.
Atlas’s PTSD and the residual guilt he feels for lumping Cristian in with the monsters that attacked him on a battlefield in Romania, as well as Atlas’s near betrayal of Cristian because he believed it was deserved, are influential in defining their relationship as it currently exists. Trust, or the short supply of it, is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to their forging something long-lasting. The question of whether they can overcome it, from Cristian’s point of view, is no, so he’s willing to take what he’s given by Atlas in whatever time they have left together. I’m such a sucker for this romantic trope, the idea that grabbing hold of some semblance of happiness while it’s within reach and then being grateful for having had it when it’s taken away is such a great way of building up the tension and pining in a relationship. Grant exposes this so beautifully in theirs.
As Cristian and Atlas uncover the political machinations and betrayals at work behind the gruesome deaths occurring in Romania, the danger to them increases exponentially, and their reliance on an unexpected ally—albeit a reluctant ally—introduces a new character I hope will have a recurring role going forward. All the suspense and danger are meted out flawlessly to lead readers along to the moment when maximum impact is delivered in a fight for their lives as Cristian and Atlas stumble into a trap meant to end them. Some interesting suppositions made their way into my head, based on things that happened in these scenes, and I can’t wait to see what the author pulls out of her great big bag of imaginative tricks to impress me next. Because Atlas has now proved, definitively, how far he will go to protect someone he cares for in a war zone. There’s so much farther yet to travel, though, before they and those they care for are safe.
M.A. Grant keeps delivering beautiful story after beautiful story. I often feel like she’s writing just for me because I love her voice, and her narrative style is so immersive that I disappear into it and lose huge swaths of time being thoroughly infatuated with her characters. I am such a fan.
You can buy Crooked Shadows here:
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