Master of Shadows: Delicious little romantic suspense novel

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsromantic fantaSy book review Janet Lorimer Master of ShadowsMaster of Shadows by Janet Lorimer

With a single sentence, Janet Lorimer establishes the mood of Master of Shadows. And there, she starts a familiar story — Beauty meets the Beast and goes to live with him in his enchanted castle. That is, he could be a beast. Since he is always shrouded in a cowl, Ariel doesn’t know for certain.

In the story, Louvel hires Ariel to categorize the books in his extensive library. Ariel has a master’s degree in Liberal Arts — a proper degree for a the daughter of a wealthy man — and she is delighted to have a chance to actually use it. Also, since her father’s mysterious death, she rather desperately needs the money. While she is doing the job, Louvel insists that she stay in his mansion. There is no good road to and from the mansion, and staying elsewhere just is not practical. Louvel has very specific, odd, and mysterious rules that he insists she follow. However, when her curiosity gets the better of her, Louvel begins to fear that she will uncover his secrets. In fact, the story is bursting with secrets. Everyone has them: Ariel’s father, Ariel’s former fiance, and her future father-in-law. And some of them are left to the reader to figure out.

Janet Lorimer is a seasoned writer, with years of experience writing children’s fiction, and it shows. I loved the way she adapted her metaphors to the current setting. For example, if the characters were eating, she might compare something with a golden color to melted butter. Her verbs are all active (“a stab of guilt”) and her dialog effortless to follow. The novel shows solid research, some which I fact-checked and found to be true.

At times, I wished that the timeframe of the story was clearer. All I know is it is “late in the 20th century.” I’m thinking early 90s because computers were available, but their use was not yet widespread. Ariel must write letters; she cannot send emails. The setting is also unclear, with references to “the city” and “the village.” I believe that Janet Lorimer did all this on purpose, to promote a sort of fairy-tale vagueness.

Master of Shadows reminded me of a Victoria Holt novel because it’s romantic suspense written like a fairy tale, although the prince is unlike any hero I’ve ever read before (no rippling abs here!). This fairy tale has a dark and entirely modern underside. The villains in the story operate very much in the shadows. And it has two mysteries, neatly woven together.

Master of Shadows is a fairy tale retelling in which Beauty discovers just who is the true Beast. I’ve always loved stories like this, where the mundane seems magical. If you enjoy reading delicious little romantic suspense novels that keep you up late at night, Master of Shadows would work for you.

FanLit thanks Tia Nevitt from Debuts & Reviews for contributing this guest review.

Master of Shadows — (2007) Romantic fantasy. Publisher: As a child, Ariel McPherson was warned about a ferocious creature that allegedly stalked the forest near her family’s summer cottage during the full moon. But surely those were merely stories meant to warn a little girl of dangers that lurk in any wood? When her adult world collapses, Ariel takes refuge in the cottage. Forced to go on an errand of mercy during a night of the full moon, Ariel finds legend crashing into reality. She meets a mysterious stranger, Louvel, in the forest. He will not allow her to see his face, but still strangely captures her heart. Then Ariel’s life is shattered by a mysterious death; secrets are revealed and suspicions raised. Ariel’s search for answers endangers her own life. Louvel may possess powers that can protect and help her… or he may a beast more fearsome than any found in a fairy tale.

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TIA NEVITT, a guest contributor, has been a mechanic in the Air Force, a factory worker, a civilian supply weasel for the military, and finally, an office worker. She’s been an IT professional for 13 years, and now she's writing her own novels. Find out about them on our Tia Nevitt page or at Tia's blog.

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