Mal Olsen’s Shadow of Deceit is a romantic suspense brimming with sexual tension between two people dealing with personal tragedies that have left them scarred and afraid to take a chance on love. When Shannon Riedel is threatened and asked to return goods owed from her deceased husband’s unfinished gem mine deal, FBI agent Tony Crazaniak becomes her shadow, sticking to her, as she compares it, like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of one’s shoe. Shannon unwittingly finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of greed, blood diamonds, and terrorists.
The plot of the story is okay; it’s fairly easy to predict upcoming events as Shannon gradually begins to consider the possibility that her husband, Tyler, may have been involved in a lucrative but shady deal. It’s completely understandable that Shannon desperately wants to believe her husband is innocent and that her boss, Rafiel de Rios (an Anthony Bandaros lookalike) could be guilty of the acts Tony suggests. However, I found Shannon to be a frustrating protagonist fighting Tony almost every step of the way in his investigation, even though she’s intrigued by the man and wants to get to know what’s behind the FBI persona Tony projects. She’s threatened, attacked, and followed on numerous occasions, yet she still won’t fully cooperate with Tony, who does everything he can to keep her safe. Even after she grows closer both emotionally and physically, she still withholds evidence essential to the case. Shannon trusts without question those closest to her, but this trait also becomes her greatest weakness making her gullible and vulnerable to the danger surrounding her.
Tony has a personal score to settle with the terrorist, Abdul Ahad, and he is passionate in trying to find the evidence he needs to link Ahad with the diamond mine deal under investigation, and it quickly becomes clear to him that Shannon is key to resolving the case. However, I was surprised at how long he was willing to wait to question Shannon. He wasn’t as aggressive with her as I would have expected, and I think his lack of action was geared toward gaining Shannon’s trust. In the meantime, both Shannon and Tony continuously reflect on their attraction toward each other and their reluctance to take the relationship further. After all, Shannon’s involvement is still questionable, and Tony knows he should maintain a professional distance. Furthermore, even though two years have passed since Shannon lost her family, she still feels getting involved with Tony would be a betrayal to Tyler.
The book has lots of action in the beginning and at the end. The middle of the book moves more slowly and focuses on the internal emotional conflicts Tony and Shannon face and their feelings and growing desire for one another. I found the romantic aspect to have greater emphasis rather than the FBI investigation in the overall plot. Love scenes are explicit and geared toward mature readers. If you’re a romance reader, you should check out Mal Olsen’s work.
Source: I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review.
Link to Review