Title: The Shadow Master’s Miss
Author: Barbara St. Raine
Genre: Historical Romance
An unexpected and violent intrusion on the Kingsley’s land tears the family apart, leaving four of the children stranded, terrified for their lives and longing for their parents. Tara, the eldest daughter, is forced to fend for her brother and sisters as they are left unarmed and unprepared for the cold world that awaits them. But when the legendary “Shadow Master” accompanies them on their journey, Tara’s burdens become lighter, and her heart is opened. The once traumatic event for the family ends up bringing them even closer together.
When Trey and Sayer Kingsley fail to return from a trip, the Kingsley family knows there is trouble. But a visit from a suspicious neighbor that leads to their mother missing confirms their worst fears–this stranger wants something and is willing to do terrible things to get it.
The story’s antagonist, Emerson Masters, is creepy and sadistic. Each scene he is featured in adds drama, fear, and speed that the story needs to balance out the many light-hearted love scenes. Unfortunately, Masters only makes a few appearances throughout, and because of how polar-opposite he is to the rest of the cast of characters, he is never fully developed as a character.
Additionally, Masters’s second-in-command, Nevil, who is almost as sadistic as Masters himself, is rarely featured or explored in the novel. With a lot of potential to cause more trouble than they actually did, the novel’s antagonists didn’t quite receive the spotlight needed to fully flesh them out as “bad guys.”
Despite Tara Kingsley’s bravery and intuitiveness, she is weak to the advances of Drake, a gruff but gentle family friend, who has come to help the Kingsleys reach a safe haven. Coined as the mysterious “Shadow Master,” Drake’s acute defense skills and ability to remain nearly invisible at his will, his accompaniment to the Kingsley’s trip proves helpful.
But as the trip prolongs, so does Tara’s secret desire for Drake. Playing on the many points of emotional distress Tara experiences, the romance unfolds naturally and is never too sappy or sweet. The sexual scenes in the novel were tasteful and carefully placed within the story itself so that it doesn’t overwhelm the reader.
The Kingsleys’s all-American family dynamic is heart-warming–their undying love for each other is palpable and their insistence to fight tooth and nail to reunite all members of the family frames the story’s overall theme of the strength and power of a family who never gives up on each other.
Scenes where the Kingsleys were at risk of coming into harm’s way were gut-wrenching and realistic. Readers will feel a real connection to the family; more serious and depressing scenes will leave readers’ hearts aching and rooting for the family on their journey to safety and reunion.
At times, conversations or scenes with side characters felt a bit empty and often slowed down the story’s pace. These scenes could come across as taking away from the most fascinating characters that propel the story’s plot–the Kingsleys and Drake.
Making your heart swoon and flutter from the chemistry and romance, The Shadow Master’s Miss will bring out your inner romantic as you follow the journey of two people who fall in love in the darkest of times. This love story about opening up and not fearing love from unconventional people will remind readers of how love can bring us out of the shadows. More than romantic love, The Shadow Master’s Miss is a story about familial love and all that can be accomplished through it.
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