Seduce Me in Shadow by Shayla Black
(Pocket, $7.99, R)  ISBN 978-141-657844-4
Seduce me in Shadow, Shayla Black’s second entry in her Doomsday Brethren series, is a story on testosterone overload with a heroine who exhibits some truly idiotic behavior. If you can look past the host of snarling, strutting, chest-pounding bad boys, you might enjoy this tale of a reluctant mage trying to save his brother and finding love along the way.

Caden MacTavish has returned to London to help save the life of his brother, Lucan. Caden, a successful photojournalist based in Texas, long ago left behind his roots and the family tendency toward magic. He wants no part of it. Now Lucan has lost his mate, Anka, and is mad with grief.  Unless Anka can be found, Lucan probably won’t survive.

Lucan is part of the Doomsday Brethren, an alliance of warriors with magical powers. They are embroiled in a fight against an evil wizard named Mathias, who is commanding a growing army of zombie-like creatures with the aim of taking over the world. Caden doesn’t want to be drawn into their war, but when a tabloid prints a story about the Brethren, he is given the task of finding out just how the reporter discovered them. Could Anka be the source? Then the reporter, a young woman named Sydney Blair, is reported to possess the powerful Doomsday Book, and Caden is sent to retrieve it.

Sydney knows there are strange creatures afoot in London, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the story. Caden manages to get hired at the tabloid as a photographer, bringing him in close proximity to Sydney. Though they are immediately attracted to each other, Caden holds back. He can’t manage to get Sydney to reveal her source, however, and eventually they end up in bed. Caden is afraid that Sydney may be his true mate, something he doesn’t want.

There are plenty of side characters in the Brethren, most of whom appear destined for their own stories. These guys do not get along, and their constant taunting, nonstop insults, and sneering at one another gets old, fast. You’d think with the fate of mankind at stake, they’d act a bit more like adults and a lot less like swaggering teenagers, but this is apparently supposed to pass for character development.  Be prepared for a lot of “I’m gonna kick your ass” dialogue, but you won’t get to know any of them very well.

Caden is a fairly interesting guy, definitely a good reluctant hero. Being in London triggers his transformation into a wizard, which is conveniently accompanied by near-constant frenzied sexual urges, allowing the author to throw in a lot of hot sex between Caden and Sydney. Guess a guy can’t escape his fate, but what a way to go, right? As for Sydney, she exhibits some of the stupidest behavior I’ve read in a novel in quite a while, including the famous “willingly going into danger alone and getting captured by the villains” scene.  Of course now Caden needs to rescue her and discover what she means to him. Couldn’t the author come up with a way to set up her climax without making the heroine into a moron? This is just lazy plotting.

My annoyance with all this overshadowed my enjoyment of the plot, which is quite inventive in places. Two other women in the story are particularly intriguing: Aquarius, a friend of Sydney’s who may be more than she seems, and a powerful witch named Saybelle who goes to great lengths to try and help Lucan, in a scene that may make some readers squirm a bit. Saybelle is destined for her own story, and that’s one I’d look forward to.

Seduce Me in Shadow will probably please readers who enjoyed the first of the Doomsday Brethren books, but it might not be enough to entice new readers into the series.  Proceed with caution. 

--Cathy Sova

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