Virna DePaul's Shades of Desire is a very good book. It's part of the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line. I like that because I enjoy a good romance, but I usually need a decent story to go with it. This has both. The sexual tension between the main characters does not diminish the suspense part. Natalie Jones is a renowned photojournalist. She also happens to be only recently legally blind. Liam "Mac" McKenzie is a top homicide detective for the California Department of Justice's Special Investigations Group (SIG). Both of them have had disastrous romantic relationships. When Mac starts investigating a serial killer, and Natalie escapes an attack from said killer, he comes in direct contact (no pun intended) with Natalie. Words and fur fly. They are attracted to each other while, at the same time, they try to maintain an investigator-victim professional relationship.
That's all I'm going to tell you about the story. But I have other things to say. First of all, this book reminds me of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl (I'm going to see her at the JCC in San Francisco on April 23 - looking forward to that). I liked the 1st half, but I really liked the 2nd half. Just when the Natalie and Mac story was starting to get a little bit tiring, Virna brought in the church's involvement and a bunch of new characters. It went from a bit plodding to compelling. Nicely done.
Secondly, how many of you have read Lie Down With Lions by Ken Follett? It's an older book but a good one. There is a sex scene in there that is really well done. In fact, there are many of us (old) hetero males that still refer to it (don't worry, it's always in context!). Why do I bring this up? Because the 1st sex between Mac and Natalie (you know there has to be sex between them) is reminiscent of the scene from Lie Down With Lions. It's very graphic but sensual at the same time. Jasmine Haynes (our beloved erotic romance author) would be proud (E.L. James, eat your heart out).
Thirdly, Virna does a great job of making us care about the 2 main characters (and some of the other characters, too). You all know that this is a big deal to me. If I don't care a lot, then it will impact my enjoyment of the book. I really cared about Mac and Natalie. I felt their pain, their hopes, their desires (wow, pretty good, eh - I'm thinking about writing jacket covers for Harlequin!).
Lastly, I came across something in this book that I don't think I've ever seen before (if you don't want to know what that is, stop reading this paragraph immediately). The book ends with another sex scene. As surprised as I was, I was not disappointed (that's not what I meant!). It is appropriate to the story. Very cool.
There's only one thing that keeps me from giving this a 3.5 instead of a 3.0. There are a few instances in the book where I have a little trouble following the writing (it could be me, couldn't it?). For some reason, there are moments when I am a little confused as to what she is saying. It doesn't happen often, but it is frequent enough that the final grade is a 3.0. That's still pretty darn good, and I strongly recommend Shades of Desire.
P.S. Virna is the 7th of the 10 authors that I saw and met and Barnes & Noble back in October (I think) that I have now read. I will get to the other 3 - sooner rather than later.