I would give this book ten stars of I could!
Christine Feehan's fourth book the Shadow Riders series, Shadow Warrior, is a superb reading experience. There is action from the very first chapter, opening with Vittorio Ferarro thwarting a planned kidnapping of a young woman Grace Murphy, who turns out to be one fiery heroine an potential shadow rider mate.
I loved Grace from the moment she enters the story, she has been locked in a trunk of a car, to be delivered to murderous, misogynistic thugs by her loser, dependent step-brother as a payment for his gambling debt. Grace does not go submissively; she literally comes out the trunk of the car like a tornado. When Vittorio intervenes, Grace throws herself in the path of a bullet meant for him. From this point, the story is a rush to save Grace's life and take down the villains who think of nothing to take a woman for their own vile use.
Vittorio spends the rest of the book caring for the independent Grace who does not want to put anyone else in the path of her psycho brother. Vittorio really has to convince Grace, who runs her own successful business, that Vittorio's image as a wastrel billionaire playboy is a front for what his family actually does, bring justice to human monsters.
My heart was hammering the entire book, the focus of the story was on the resolution of who is actually behind the sabotage attacks on the Ferraro family, stopping a sociopathic killer who has held Grace's movements as near hostage, and the family dynamics that threaten to be a catalyst of a war between the Ferraro's and their long-time nemesis, the Saldi crime family.
I loved this book, with Grace recuperating from a gunshot injury, there was no consummation scene until well past the hallway point of the story, Vittorio was focused on courting Grace and being open enough to gain her trust. For me, heroines make or break whether I love the story because it's a really fine line for authors to make the female appear strong without being a wild-eyed shrew or a needy, traumatized doormat. Too often for my liking, authors trip themselves up and the woman character comes across as either a self-centered harpy or irritating twit.
Thankfully, Grace was an intelligent, resilient, compassionate heroine who complimented Vittorio in every way. Despite the vast inequity in their wealth and family, (she was an orphan who grew up in foster homes), she did not need him to take care of her and was not impressed by his wealth. Grace was confident enough in her own proven abilities to stand at his side as an equal partner.
It was wonderful to see the family interacting and working together to welcome Grace into their fold as they try to negotiate a semblance of truce with the smarmy criminal Saldi family. It was a nice twist to bring in a fascinating character and member of another shadow rider family, the enigmatic and powerful Archambaults. Emmanuelle Ferraro should have waited for a man like Elie Archambault instead being such a fool to ever consider giving up everything, all her training and calling, for a man, that insipid Valentino Saldi; no wonder her mother, Eloisa, was so hard on her only daughter for acting like a lovesick cow.
I hope to see more of Elie Archambault and hope he finds a grand heroine like Grace. I love seeing such extraordinary women come into the Ferraro family and making the clan stronger. Even mean, derisive dragon mum Eloisa fought to protect Grace when it mattered most. I'm only bummed about having to wait another year to find out which Ferarro story will be next.