Let me start by saying that back on January 13 I gave Virna DePaul's Shades of Desire a 3.0 (out of 4), even though I was leaning toward a 3.5. And the reason was a few spots where I thought the writing was a little confusing. Well, that certainly didn't happen in Shades of Passion. I thought the writing was better throughout. This is a solid 3.5. Nice job, Virna!
Shades of Passion is another book from Harlequin's romantic suspense imprint (HQN). I know I've said this before, but I really like this genre of book. There's heavy romance (if you catch my drift), but it's always wrapped up in a suspenseful story line. Way to go, Harlequin (this must be my cheerleading day)!
This story centers around a different SIG member, Simon Granger, than the one we saw in Desire. If you recall, SIG is the state equivalent of the FBI. The SIG aids local police forces (in this case, SFPD) when there's a conflict of interest or in particularly complex cases. And also, if you recall, Shades of Desire was about Liam "Mac" McKenzie. Mac still makes an occasional appearance in this story, but it's a bit part. Moving right along...
Dr. Nina Whitaker is a psychiatrist who was instrumental in instituting a program back in South Carolina designed to help the police deal more humanely and effectively with the mentally ill. Due to the unfortunate death of a young woman under Nina's care, along with a tragedy from 20 years earlier in her own family, Nina decides to leave her practice behind and move cross-country. Even though she now deals only with geriatric dementia patients, her new boss, Karen, convinces Nina to help propose the same program with the SFPD that she put into effect in South Carolina. This puts her in direct contact with Simon. In fact, she is assigned to shadow Simon. And the sparks fly.
But wait. Things don't go that smoothly for Simon and Nina (you can't be surprised!). There are several people in the book that have axes to grind - and grind away they do. I recently saw a movie, Safe Haven, based on a Nicholas Sparks' book. Julianne Hough travels from one coast to the other to get away from an abusive boyfriend (she also colors her hair - that should fool him!). She falls for Josh Duhamel, and they live happily ever after - or do they? Obviously, the boyfriend is not content to stay on his coast. I tell you this because it's exactly what is meant by romantic suspense. I liked Sparks' version, and I like DePaul's version.
There's one more element of the book that I want to mention. There's a lot of discussion about mental illness and how the police deal with it, especially when it relates to a tense law-breaking situation. It certainly seems like Virna has done extensive research on the topic. I'm hoping that I will have an opportunity at some point, since she is a local author, to talk to her about that. I thought that this was a particularly impressive showcasing of the disease as it relates to the police. Is it accurate? Beats me. But it sure does seem to be.