Shannon Riedel goes through the motions after her husband dies in a horrendous car accident. She suffers lasting injuries, but is haunted by guilt because she was the one driving that fateful night. We later learn Shannon lost more than just her husband in the accident, and our hearts break for her. Trivet, her three-legged cat is a delightful addition to the story, a touching symbol of the broken woman Shannon has become. Trivet represents more than learning to live with disability, and he and Shannon both surprise us later in the story.
Two years after the accident, FBI Agent Tony Crazaniak shows up to investigate after a gunman surprises Shannon at work. Tony is not without his own demons. While serving in Afghanistan, most of Tony’s Delta Force team died in an ambush. Tony buried himself in blame when only he and one other team member made it home alive. Now, he’s out to bring down Abdul Ahad, the terrorist leader responsible, and he thinks the man who threatened Shannon is connected. After Shannon lives through several attacks, Tony is sure he’s on the right track.
The twist comes into play when we find out we’re dealing with three different antagonists. One of them men pointing right at Shannon’s late husband, Tyler.
We’re taken along for the ride as the two uncover corruption and deceit. The people closest to Shannon are under suspicion, and her family is in danger. Tony fights to keep Shannon safe while searching for answers. He’s attracted to Shannon but professionalism and respect for her grief, keep him from acting on that desire. At least at first. Eventually, both give in to a passion that promises to overshadow guilt.
Olson has a strong, active voice and she does a great job of escalating tension. The pace is fast, and action packed, with enough down-time to allow the reader to catch her breath. After a certain point, there really isn’t any secret to the identity of the ultimate bad guy, or the line-up of thugs leading to him. But Olson still manages to keep readers on edge, wondering what is going happen next.
Olson took her time with the relationship in this story, and it worked for me. Both leads faced set-backs and showed growth. There were a few inconsistencies in Shannon. I found her surprisingly rosy-eyed, considering the loss she’s suffered. And composure? Wow. She barely breaks a sweat when a gun-toting thug breaks into her office and greets her by name, or later, upon running across a dead body. Yet, at other times she contradicts that strength, making naive, poorly thought out decisions that left me shaking my head. Just a time or two, and not enough to stop me from enjoying the story.
This was a good read. I’d definitely pick up another book by Mal Olson.
Here’s a tasty excerpt of Shadow of Deceit for you to enjoy:
The gun Shannon came across at the bottom of a neatly folded stack of masculine attire on her bed shouldn’t have surprised her. She’d seen the agent’s Glock earlier.
Intrigued, she reached for the pistol, an object that seemed so out of place in her bedroom. As though she were familiar with handling firearms when she wasn’t, she wrapped her hand around the grip then jerked her head toward the bathroom door, conjuring up thriller fantasies.
But she didn’t have to conjure anything when she noticed a letter poking out of Crazaniak’s inside jacket pocket. Nor did she have to imagine the fact that the closet door stood slightly ajar. Her stomach clenched, a mix of anger and unease. Had the FBI agent been nosing through Tyler’s belongings?
Tit for tat—the urge to sneak a peak overwhelmed her. Her heartbeat ratcheted up as she shifted the gun to her left hand and reached for the letter.
At that instant, she sensed a presence behind her. Even as the sound of water pounded the walls of the tub enclosure, Shannon knew in her heart of hearts that six foot-plus of dripping wet, naked man stood not relaxing under the water jets, but hovering five heart-palpitating feet away.
“Want to toss me my clothes?” he asked.
Unwilling to face him, she remained quick-frozen like a pillar of ice.
“Tell me you weren’t snooping in my things,” he rumbled.
“Tell me you weren’t snooping in my closet.”
“ I wasn’t snooping.”
She eyed the edge of the letter. “I thought I’d treat your duds to some suds. You want to hang out in my robe for a few?”
“Not enough material there to cover my manly attributes. I’ll settle for day-old Jockeys, and what the hell were you doing with my pistol?”
“Nothing.” She almost turned around.
Her chest thumped. The thought of Crazaniak au natural not only spiked her pulse, it titillated her imagination. She waited for a chord of guilt to strum across her heart. It didn’t happen. Instead, discord fluttered low in her abdomen, and she sensed him moving closer.
THE WILD ROSE PRESS
ebook or paperback
Most online booksellers
Available March 7, 2012
About the Author
Mal Olson writes adrenaline-kicked romantic suspense. When her consuming passion for writing allows time, she enjoys reading, flower gardening, jamming with friends on the mountain dulcimer, and hiking in a nearby state forest (or in the mountains somewhere). She has three grown children and one granddaughter and resides with her own special hero in southeast Wisconsin where she juggles writing time with her freelance landscape design business.
Visit Mal online: www.malolson.com