This is the third in a paranormal romance series, and reading it gave me the weird feeling it was written to address concerns I had with the previous two books in the series — and perhaps with some other Shinn books as well. Both of the previous books focused on obsessive love of human women for shapeshifters, and they were frankly disturbing. In this book, the female narrator Karadel is the shapeshifter herself, and she’s facing a choice between her charismatic ex-lover, a classic bad boy type who’s also a shifter, and a solid, reliable new man in her life. Astonishingly enough, she goes good — although you could say the choice is made easy for her by her ex going very bad.
I’ve often found Shinn books to be morally ambiguous, to say the least. There are two other Shinn books — Summers at Castle Auburn and The Thirteenth House — in which the main characters use mind control powers to deliberately change someone’s memory, “for his own good.” That’s not exactly what happens here, but Kara is faced with someone she cares about playing God, which creates a serious ethical dilemma for her — as if Shinn is trying to say, “see, I do think about these moral implications!”
I didn’t find it very satisfying though. For one thing, Kara is spared from having to make a real decision, and for another, so much else about the book is perturbing in an unquestioned way. Kara has been pretending her dead mentor (one of the obsessed characters from a previous book, who basically died for love) is still alive; she goes so far as to write letters to the woman’s mother to comfort both of them. And she seems to feel no particular guilt or worry over the ethics of what she’s doing.
In another part of the book, one of Kara’s friends, a foster mother who is portrayed as deeply committed to caring for and protecting the abused teenager in her care, is described as being thrilled to let him participate in a crime. It’s a crime with the best of intentions, one that will protect many innocent people, but it’s still a crime. She should have at least had to think about it, and the possible ramifications — including losing him.
I love many of Shinn’s books; Angelica is one of my top favorite romance of all times. But I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep reading them if they continue to feel so… unthinkingly morally bankrupt.