Title: Shadow Touch
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Original Copyright: 2006
Copyright (Edition): 2011 (Avon); 374 pgs.
Series: Dirk & Steele #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
From Goodreads.com: Elena Baxter can work miracles with her hands. She can coax bones to knit, flesh to heal. She can mend the mind. She has been doing such work for almost all of her twenty-eight years. That is why she will be taken.
The media called it a rampage of terror, the recent murders. But fighting crime is why Artur Loginov joined Dirk & Steele. The international detective agency specializes in the impossible, and their creed is simple: Help those in need, no matter how difficult, and no matter what, keep the secret safe. For the agency helps its employees, too: people like Artur- the gifted, the tormented. Dirk & Steele gave the Russian emigre purpose, protection, community… and refuge from his past, for who can trust a man who can start a fire with his mind, or shape-shift, or read others’ thoughts as easily as drawing breath? For his similar talent, Artur will be taken.
Into the darkness Elena and Artur will be drawn, into the clutches of evil. Cornered, isolated, caged, they will fight for their very souls. But salvation awaits. It exists in a form least expected: a dream of a face, a brush of a mind, the hint of a kiss, and finally, at long last a shadow touch.
Even though I only just started this series, once I read the first book I knew it would become a favorite. In some ways, it reminds me of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changelings. There are shifters and there are psychics. If I had to compare Artur’s talent to the Psy, I would say it comes close to the Justice Psy. Elena’s actually reminded me of one of Judd’s side talents — also, what saved Katya at the end of Blaze of Memory.
I really liked the characters. Artur had a hard life in Russia after his mother put him in an orphanage at the age of twelve . He did what he needed to survive. He worked for the mob until he couldn’t live with himself anymore. That’s when Roland found him and eventually convinced him to join Dirk and Steele. Though he’s turned his life around, he still feels that someone like Elena would reject him for his past.
Elena’s past isn’t as burdened as Artur’s. She is such a compassionate person that her first instinct is to save Artur’s life, mere minutes after meeting him in the hallway of their prison — and why she can accept Artur and not hold his past against him. Her nature is the reason Artur can bear touching her — what little darkness there is, it’s nothing compared to the things Artur has seen in others. Elena isn’t a meek person and she can hold her own, and a few times that gets her into trouble. During the climatic confrontation near the end of the book, it’s Elena that saves the day.
The first part of the book focuses on the pair, individually, as they try to make sense of where they are and why they were kidnapped — plus be treated like lab rats. Both have desirable skills, but the mysterious head of the organization is desperate to make use of Elena’s. She’s so important to them, that she’s been assigned a bodyguard, Rictor — a man with his own agenda.
Things pick up when an emergency in the facility presents an opportunity to escape, rescuing two other prisoners in the process. At first, their goals are to stay ahead of the bad guys and get someplace safe, since none of them know exactly where they are. But then Artur learns what the Consortium plans to do and his goal is to stop them. I thought this part of the book was fast paced because the characters are constantly on the move.
There is a major revelation near the end that changes things for Dirk and Steele, and probably drives the overarching storyline of the series. I’m looking forward to reading more.
(Cross-posted from Goodreads.com, with some minor changes)
Start: 18 February 2012
Finished: 20 February 2012