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Review: Secrets and Shadows

Secrets and Shadows, the second book in the 13 to Life series by Shannon Delany, was released on February 15, 2011 in paperback and eBook formats.

It is available online to order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, the print edition is 320 pages.

**The first line of the Goodreads description is spoiler-y for book one**

Highlight over the blank space to read the hidden text.

Goodreads description:

Nothing’s simple when you run with werewolves.

Jess Gillmansen thinks she’s seen it all but her eyes are about to be opened to even more danger and a reality far more paranormal than she’s suspected. With Jess’s realization that the Rusakovas’ mother is still alive and imprisoned, the group’s choices become harder and trust more important.

Lines are drawn and relationships change as the broken Rusakova family struggles to reunite long enough to free their mother and people who Jess always just took to be normal people show themselves to be much, much more.

***

Jessie’s been having nightmares. After everything that she witnessed, everything that she did that night, she expected them. She just wished they would stop. That she could make peace with everything that happened.

She wanted things to return to the way they used to be. Before she met Pietr Rusakova and his family. Before the accident that took her mother from her. Where her only heartache was having a crush on Derek. And the only excitement in her life came from entering competitions with her horse, Rio.

But once she gave her heart away, she knew that going back was not an option. And that she would do whatever she could to help the Rusakovas find their mother before time ran out. Even if it meant putting herself in danger once more.

Living under the constant threat to her safety from her association with the Rusakovas, having to keep secrets from her friends, walking on eggshells around Sarah, trying to figure out the real reason for the recent suicides at Junction High, discovering that someone she knows is much more than they appear to be and losing sleep from the nightmares that terrorize her, Jessica Gillmansen is really beginning to miss being just a farm girl from boring old Junction.

***

The mystery deepens, the pace accelerates, and the tension continues to build in Secrets and Shadows, the exciting sequel to 13 to Life. The story doesn’t miss a beat and picks up shortly after the events in the first book, allowing readers to easily continue from one book to the next without a disconnect. But for those readers who have had to wait, the inclusion of a prologue offers just enough of a refresher about the story and events to bring them up to speed.

In this sequel, the action intensifies as Jessica Gillmansen tries to come to grips with the part she played in the events that would leave her forever tied to the Rusakovas. And after learning their secret, she is now more determined than ever to help Pietr and his family.

Even as she tries to get closer to Pietr, she can feel him pulling away, leaving her wondering what she did wrong. But Jessie is not one to give up, and loyalty and hope keep her going even as her heart is breaking.

And when a troubling secret is uncovered about one of her friends, trying to keep her out of harm’s way while continuing to keep an eye on Wanda and Sarah, attempting to repair the broken Rusakova family, reuniting them with their mother, and actually attending classes every once in a while is keeping Jessie more than busy.

So busy that her investigative mind fails to uncover an even bigger threat to her, and one that might be just too late to protect herself from.

Author Shannon Delany has really expanded upon the story and characters she introduced in her debut novel. Jessie has become an independent, strong, determined, loyal and good-hearted main character who is much more likable and sympathetic in this sequel.

There are a few new developments for some of the secondary characters and a few surprise revelations that will keep readers frantically turning those pages.

Once again there is a dramatic conclusion to the story, leaving readers on the edge of a pretty steep cliff. Fortunately, the third book in the series, Bargains and Betrayals, has just been released so there is no wait to find out what’s at the bottom of that cliff.

Secrets and Shadows is an immensely entertaining read in a series that continues to surprise and will draw readers in with its easy style, likable characters, romantic tension and cliffhanger ending. This second book in the series brings even more action and mystery to the page and is sure to keep readers engaged.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I so completely loved this sequel. Why didn’t I read this last February? Seriously, what is wrong with me? I loved this way more than the first book in the series.

I totally adored 13 to Life, but this just was so much better. As with book one, the writing made it so easy to keep that connection with the characters and the story, but this book had a much better flow. And aside from one question I had about the repercussions of something that happened to the main character, nothing pulled me out of the story once I made that connection. Everything I had an issue with or found confusing in the first book was not present in this book at all.

I actually loved Jessie in Secrets and Shadows. Where she frustrated me and I thought her too much of a martyr in book one, here she was strong and determined and protective in all the right amounts. And throughout this story I really cared about what happened to her.

The love story was deliciously torturous, maddeningly so at times, but in all the best possible ways. And even though there was still a little bit of a love triangle, it changed significantly and was definitely not the focus. I’m almost always a fan of the love triangle, but it’s nice to see that it wasn’t treated quite the same way in this sequel. And it became even more interesting with a surprise element that definitely mixed things up.

Pietr was as yummy and frustrating as ever. Max was adorable, flirtatious and so totally alpha male. And Cat was a great friend and keeper of the peace.

A few of the characters had less of a role, but were not forgotten entirely and were still kept a part of this story. And as much as I’m not a Derek fan, I am so glad that his part wasn’t reduced and he remained such an important character.

I am really excited about an interesting twist in the story and what it means for one or more of the characters in this series. I would say more but it would be a total spoiler. But, it really makes me want to re-read 13 to Life to see if there were any hints.

I liked how the author continued to progress the story and also Sarah’s character and I’m interested to see just what happens with her in the next book as everything was always pretty fragile with her.

Secrets and Shadows was no filler novel or sophomore slump. Not only is there a new development with one of the characters, but the author broadened the world just in time for book three, completely blowing the door wide open for all sorts of possibilities.

And with the cliffhanger ending in this book, there is no way I could not continue on with this series. I am so glad that I don’t have to wait and can just go from one book to the next without pause. I’m actually afraid to finish Bargains and Betrayals and possibly be left hanging until the fourth book’s release.

How I “discovered” this book:

Secrets and Shadows is a “Just Discovered” just got a chance to read book.

I discovered the series initially from an Amazon recommendation shortly after the first book in the series, 13 to Life, was released. I decided to buy it, but didn’t immediately get a chance to read it.

What got me to move this up in my TBR pile was the prequel novella Beasts and BFFs. It was short, but gave me a quick peek at the characters and the world. And I began reading 13 to Life very soon thereafter.

The moment I finished it, I couldn’t wait to get this my hands on the sequel, Secrets and Shadows. But as always seems to be the case, by the time it was released, blogging got in the way. Which is why there are so few “Just Discovered” reviews lately. I always seem to be playing catch-up on required reviews and new releases.

So, when release date came around last February this downloaded to my Kindle, but kept getting pushed further and further back. Even though I really, really wanted to read it. So as release date approached for book three, Bargains and Betrayals, which I happened to get an early copy of, I finally got a chance to move it to the top of the reading pile.

I still would have liked to read this when I put it on my reading pile a couple weeks ago, but only just got around to reading it this past weekend. Still, it was well worth the wait and I’m actually glad I had the next book to pick up immediately because talk about a torturous cliffhanger ending. It beats the cliffhanger at the end of book one by a mile.

***

Favorite passage, well, second favorite, my favorite is totally spoiler-y:

Something flared in his eyes, bright as wildfire, and he grabbed me, covering my mouth with his. I gasped, and he moved his lips against mine, pinning our bodies together with his powerful arms. Every nerve ending in my body sparked like electricity rioted just beneath my skin as we breathed the same air. Shared the same tastes.

If you’d like to check out my review for 13 to Life, click here.

Book trailer for Secrets and Shadows:

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