"Darkly, erotic thriller, sheer magic!"
Anne Stuart has carved out her own niche with dark, erotic
thrillers that leave you breathless. Frankly, I am
surprised she does not get more of a spotlight for her
works for she is one of the best in the field. Her stories
are sensual, involving books that you cannot put down. The
males are deadly, arrogant, and often have been outside of
the law, simply because they are a law unto themselves. It
is truly amazing how she can write for two series lines for
Harlequin and yet give us equally winning historicals and
these sexy, skin-soaked-with- sweat mysteries. Even more
surprising is how she can create these irredeemable bad
boys time and again, and not fall into stereotypes. Anne's
bad boys do not come from a mold.
SHADOWS AT SUNSET gives us another obsessively driven,
alpha/gamma male who will let nothing stand in his way to
achieving what he has set out to do, and a heroine who will
win your heart and make you care. Jilly Meyers lives in the
flamingo pink La Casa de Sombras, the House of Shadows, a
crumbling Hollywood mansion that reeks of an era gone, of
the glitz and glamour decadence that mesmerized the world
with the Silver Screen stars who lived larger-than-life
flamboyant lifestyles on screen and off. The pink stucco is
fading; the legends of the idols have faded as well. Yet
Jilly hangs on trying to make a life for herself and help
save her sister and brother. And though modern day, a tinge
of that self-destructive streak of Hollywood past seem
rooted in both of Jilly's siblings. Rachel-Ann, her sister,
is argumentative, in- your-face willful, and bent on
throwing her life away with booze, drugs, and sexual
addiction. Jilly's brother Dean is a young man struggling
with his own sexuality and nearly crippled by his need for
approval from Jackson Meyers, their father. (A son-father
compulsion for no one else would want his approval!)
Jackson makes Joan Crawford look like June Clever! He is an
amoral tomcat, stab-you-in- the-back corporate raider who
has run afoul of the Feds. To him, family devotion is just
another commodity to use, abuse, or trade away to his
advantage. And the old pink mansion is Jilly's last bastion
against Jackson's careless grinding of his family.
Into the mix, Jackson tosses his lawyer/pit bull, Coltrane.
While the situation of the Feds is hot, he assigns his
right hand to keep the residents of the manor out of
trouble and out of the public eye. However, Coltrane has
his own agenda that will see not only Jackson, but Jilly's
house of cards, destroyed. Coltrane blames Jackson for the
death of his mother years ago, and has come to take his
pound of flesh first from Jilly and then Jackson. But as
Coltrane is drawn into the middle of Jilly's dysfunctional
family, against his will his role begins to change, and so
does the form of his revenge.
Despite Jilly's resentment of her father forcing her to
accept Coltrane into their home and their lives, she is
falling under his erotic spell. She is nearly torn apart
with jealousy, and driven to protect her sister as Coltrane
seems to stalk Jilly one minute and her sister the next
with deadly sensual pursuit.
But these troubled inhabitants are not the only residents
of the House of Shadows, for Jilly is little aware that the
ghosts of Brenda de Lorillard and Ted Hughes, the glamorous
Hollywood screen who idols died there still haunt the
manor. An apparent murder-suicide, their mysterious deaths
give the manor its sinister, almost doomed ambiance.
However, the unsolved riddle of their deaths is now rising
to push everyone's lives to a stunning confrontation.
Coltraine is as deadly as a cobra bent on revenge, but
again Stuart does what few writers can and all wish they
could, give him that spark of believable humanity that
could save him through his love of Jilly.
Stuart gives you such vivid, erotic imagery, forceful
leads, and just as strong secondary romance between Rachael
and Ricco, the man who would save Rachael from her spiral
of self-destruction. The tension is palpable; it gets under
your skin like a hot summer night and will keep you glued
to the very end. This one takes is place up there with
Stuart's masterpieces MOONRISE, NIGHTFALL and RITUAL SINS.
Posted April 6, 2003
Reviewed by Deborah Macgillivray
Posted November 18, 2006