Behind Closed Doors, by Shannon McKenna

>> Thursday, January 20, 2005

Behind Closed Doors (excerpt), was my first book by author Shannon McKenna.

Surveillance expert Seth Mackey knows everything about the women that his millionaire boss toys with--and tosses aside. Raine Cameron is something different. Night after night, Seth watches her on a dozen different video screens. Her vulnerable beauty haunts him and her fresh innocence stirs a white-hot passion that he can barely control. Raine is pure temptation, but Seth has something more important to take care of first. He's convinced that his boss, Victor Lazar, is responsible for his half-brother's murder. He cannot put his secret investigation at risk, but he can't stop wanting her--craving her--and soon he knows he can't let Victor have her. For Raine may be Victor's next victim . . .

Raine knows she's being watched--but no one can see the secrets in her heart. She has reasons of her own to seek revenge on Victor Lazar, and she will, despite her fear--and the distracting presence of Seth Mackey. Though Raine has little experience with men, Seth's fiercely masculine good looks and animal sensuality stir her most erotic fantasies when she's alone . . .and lead her to a bold plan. Offering her body to him, surrending totally to his ruthless desire might well push her beyond all emotional limits--and beyond fear itself.
Well, I liked this, and I'm actually very surprised that I did. The hero's a jerk most of the time, and the heroine is often TSTL, and yet... I enjoyed myself. Hmm, part of it must have been the love scenes! I'd give Behind Closed Doors a B+.

The book starts with a scene that evoked reactions in me that precisely predicted how I would feel about the entire book. Seth, on a mission to avenge his brother's murder, has bugged the home of Victor Lazar's mistress, because he believes Lazar played a part in the killing and he wants to know as much as possible about the man. Raine, on a similar mission (Lazar's actually her uncle and she believes he might have killed her father), has got a job in his company under an assumed identity and is now living in the bugged house. So, the first scenes have Seth basically spying on Raine, and getting all hot and bothered. They should have been creepy and uncomfortable, and they should have bothered me, especially when Seth refuses to stop looking at certain moments, but instead, came across as exciting and steamy. I was "bothered" all right, just not in an indignant kind of way! ;-)

And so it went on, from a first meeting in which they have sex because Seth believes Victor has offered him the sexual services of Raine, his employee, to a sweltering hot encounter in Seth's SUV. As for the scenes themselves, oh, wow! They made it by far the hottest book I've read lately. And McKenna managed to make the numerous and lengthy love scenes part of the plot. They didn't feel at all gratuitous: each furthered the plot or the development of the characters. Plus, they were wonderfully well written. The language was frank, even crude at times, with not one flowery euphemism in sight, and this worked perfectly, because it fit the characters, especially Seth, so well. I don't think I skipped even one line in these scenes, and that's something that doesn't happen too often.

Seth was a hard character to like. He was just so basic and crude and socially inept, so good at always saying the wrong thing, or the right thing in a wrong way, that I would have understood perfectly if Raine had ran screaming in the other direction. What I liked about him was the way he slowly became more and more fond of Raine, more protective and tender, all the while being sexually obsessed with her. There was just something about the way his entire focus was on her, that made the whole situation more of a turn-on that I would have thought possible. However, he was a bit too distrustful of Raine, right until the end, and that made the last part of the book not as good as it could have been.

At first, I thought Raine was going to be too much of a doormat, weak, snivelling coward, but though she really was a bit of a weakling at first, and really didn't know what the hell she was doing, she showed some satisfying growth throughout the story. The first few times she meets Seth, she is utterly and completely overwhelmed by him, and I thought: "Oh, no!" But by the end of the book, she's perfectly able to stand up to him and rip him a new one, if needed (though she does have much more tolerance for high-handed behaviour than I would have).

The plot was interesting, even if sometimes when McKenna starting going on and on about high-tech surveillance devices I felt like she was talking in Chinese. But seriously, she created an interesting, three-dimensional villain in Victor Lazar, and gave him and the suspense subplot just the right amount of space so that it didn't overwhelm the romance or, on the other end of the spectrum, feel like a perfunctory excuse. The only part of it that I didn't like was how McKenna threads some paranormal elements there. They just felt out of place.

So, a steamy romance and absorbing suspense... I'm so definitely going to get the next book in the series!


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