Shadow Reaper is the second book in Christine Feehan's Shadow Riders series. I have been anxiously awaiting this book since the announcement that it would be Ricco Ferraro's story and this book more than surpassed my expectations. Shadow Reaper is an outstanding follow up to the excellent first book, Shadow Rider. The main characters in this story are Ricco Ferraro and Mariko Majo and these two take the reader on an exciting, action-packed, romantic ride.
Ricco has been carrying and keeping a dangerous secret from his family regarding the time as a teen where he trained in Japan. Now those fears that have haunted Ricco are at the family's doorstep.
Although he has suspicions about her motives, that he shares with his family, Ricco meticulously courts Mariko, letting her get to know him slowly and completely. Their romance was a sweet slow burn and the payoff was sensual and explosive. Mariko is a wonderful heroineshe is a trained shadow rider and has been honed to be a deadly warrior. Mariko is such a well-developed character, despite her being a disciplined, honorable rider, she is thoughtful, astute, and compassionate.
One of my favorites scenes in where the Ferraro's are gathered in the penthouse sharing a family meal, with Francesca, Giovanni, and Taviano making pasta, alfredo sauce, and garlic bread transported me right into the penthouse kitchen and at the Ferraro table.
The community aspect of the plot is again, the heart of the Ferraro story. The habitants are warm, loyal, and to the Ferarro's and each other. Signora Moretti had me laughing out loud at her antics. Lucia and Amo are excellent foster parents to young Nicoletta, who is still emotionally scarred from her traumatic experience of being repeatedly raped by her step-uncles. I could feel her embarrassment and withdrawal around the Ferraro's; after all they all know what happened to the teenager. She will always have a hard time feeling comfortable in their presence. Even if she ends up married to a Ferraro, her trauma won't just be between her and her matethe entire family knows the worst thing that happened to her. I really hope that Emme follows up on actually training Nicoletta. Taviano is most protective of Nicoletta, I suspect she will likely be his mate...many years in the future.
This is PNR so there is sex but the first intimate scene is not until page 263, well past the halfway mark in the story. Shibari art seems to be an interesting storyline. However, I must admit that I don't quite understand the rope bondage aspect, it sounds very sensual but agoraphobia-inducing for me.
I am suspicious of that Valentino Saldi; he seems to just happen to be on the scene wherever Emmanuelle is and inserts himself into her business. I love how Taviano refers to Val as the "prince." I hope the Ferraro brothers keep an eye on that pretty boy Val, he is not a rider so he's not for Emmeunless that rapscallion is hiding some skill.
It was also intriguing turn of events involving Eloisa, she is a tough, fiery grand dame. It will be interesting to see how the next phase of her life plays out.
Shadow Reaper is a fantastic balance of a character driven story books wherein there is equitable focus on the action, character growth and romance. I have pre-ordered Shadow Reaper and received this ARC copy to review. Shadow Reaper rates ten shining stars!