Shadow of Deceit by Mal Olson
Publication Date: February 2012
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Shannon Riedel faces down danger when a gunman breaks into her office claiming her dead husband swindled him. When FBI agent Tony Crazaniak arrives to investigate, sexual heat sizzles. The ex-Delta Force operative’s massive presence and dark eyes trigger an attraction the young widow finds unnerving.
Once Crazaniak convinces Shannon she needs his protection, they partner to unearth secrets her husband left behind—secrets involving a Tanzanian mine that yields perfect blue diamonds coveted by dealers around the world—secrets connected to a terrorist leader Crazanaik has vowed to take down.
With danger surrounding them, two emotionally wounded souls bond, but can they put their demons to rest and trust in love? Can they survive long enough to find out?
Mal Olsen’s Shadow of Deceit is a romantic suspense brimming with sexual tension between two people dealing with personal tragedies that have left them scarred and afraid to take a chance on love. When Shannon Riedel is threatened and asked to return goods owed from her deceased husband’s unfinished gem mine deal, FBI agent Tony Crazaniak becomes her shadow, sticking to her, as she compares it, like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of one’s shoe. Shannon unwittingly finds herself caught up in a dangerous world of greed, blood diamonds, and terrorists.
The plot of the story is okay; it’s fairly easy to predict upcoming events as Shannon gradually begins to consider the possibility that her husband, Tyler, may have been involved in a lucrative but shady deal. It’s completely understandable that Shannon desperately wants to believe her husband is innocent and that her boss, Rafiel de Rios (an Anthony Bandaros lookalike) could be guilty of the acts Tony suggests. However, I found Shannon to be a frustrating protagonist fighting Tony almost every step of the way in his investigation, even though she’s intrigued by the man and wants to get to know what’s behind the FBI persona Tony projects. She’s threatened, attacked, and followed on numerous occasions, yet she still won’t fully cooperate with Tony, who does everything he can to keep her safe. Even after she grows closer both emotionally and physically, she still withholds evidence essential to the case. Shannon trusts without question those closest to her, but this trait also becomes her greatest weakness making her gullible and vulnerable to the danger surrounding her.
Tony has a personal score to settle with the terrorist, Abdul Ahad, and he is passionate in trying to find the evidence he needs to link Ahad with the diamond mine deal under investigation, and it quickly becomes clear to him that Shannon is key to resolving the case. However, I was surprised at how long he was willing to wait to question Shannon. He wasn’t as aggressive with her as I would have expected, and I think his lack of action was geared toward gaining Shannon’s trust. In the meantime, both Shannon and Tony continuously reflect on their attraction toward each other and their reluctance to take the relationship further. After all, Shannon’s involvement is still questionable, and Tony knows he should maintain a professional distance. Furthermore, even though two years have passed since Shannon lost her family, she still feels getting involved with Tony would be a betrayal to Tyler.
The book has lots of action in the beginning and at the end. The middle of the book moves more slowly and focuses on the internal emotional conflicts Tony and Shannon face as well as their feelings and growing desire for one another. I found the romantic aspect to have greater emphasis rather than the FBI investigation in the overall plot. Love scenes are explicit and geared toward mature readers. If you’re a romance reader, you should check out Mal Olsen’s work.
Source: I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review.
Five minutes after Shannon’s houseguest headed for the shower, she meandered down the hallway and hesitated before knocking on the bedroom door.
“Hey, Crazaniak, you want me to send your shirt and Jockeys through a quick cycle in the washer and dryer?” And how about sending your pants and jacket out to the cleaners? She rolled her eyes, knowing she had no intention of doing any such thing, or of actually meeting a crazed gunman alone. Maybe she could convince Crazaniak to lurk in the background while she interviewed the Hulk and pushed for more information about his claimed connection with Tyler.
Meanwhile, the only reply from Crazaniak’s neck of the woods was the sound of water flowing noisily through the pipes. Since she’d already decided it would be a nice gesture to “tidy his whiteys,” she turned the knob and tentatively stepped in. It was her bedroom.
The gun she came across at the bottom of a neatly folded stack of masculine attire on her bed shouldn’t have surprised her. She’d seen the Glock earlier. Intrigued, she reached for the pistol, an object that seemed so out of place in her bedroom. As though she were familiar with handling firearms when she wasn’t, she wrapped her hand around the grip then jerked her head toward the bathroom door, conjuring up thriller fantasies.
But she didn’t have to conjure anything when she noticed a letter poking out of his inside jacket pocket. Nor did she have to imagine the fact that the closet door stood slightly ajar. Her stomach clenched, a mix of anger and unease. Had the FBI agent been nosing through Tyler’s belongings?
Tit for tat–the urge to sneak a peek overwhelmed her. Her heartbeat ratcheted up as she shifted the gun to her left hand and reached for the letter.
At that instant, she sensed a presence behind her.
Buy Shadow of Deceit from Amazon: Shadow of Deceit: Sizzling Hot FBI Agent
Mal Olson writes adrenaline kicked romantic suspense. She enjoys skydiving, ski jumping, SCUBA, hang gliding, big wave surfing, car racing, mountain climbing—that is, vicariously through her characters, who are always kick-ass, and often boss her around rather than allowing her to spin her stories the way she intends. (She did, however, personally engage in zip lining this past summer.)
Her debut novel Shadow of Deceit, released by The Wild Rose Press in 2012, is an edge of the seat romantic suspense-thriller set in Milwaukee and parts of northern Wisconsin. A couple of her favorite reviews came from Beverly at The Wormhole, who said, “Wow! This one has it all! Non-stop action, hot and sexy characters, betrayal, smokin’ romance, and a thrilling plot–” and Gothic Mom’s Book Review, which stated, “In the 150+ books that I read per year, there are very few that receive a five star rating. Shadow of Deceit did just that. Non stop action, sexual tension, an adventure that had me on the edge of my seat…A fantastic book that had me from page one…”
Olson also offers two short stories. Danger Zone, which has spent months in the Kindle top 100 free romantic suspense category, is a guaranteed fifteen minute pulse pounder where two strangers survive a rock ‘n roll landing on an icy Milwaukee runway and chase a could-be terrorist into the danger zone. Me and Brad, a feel good romance, features an irresistible K-9 and was ranked in the Kindle free top 100 list for months in the Contemporary Romance category.
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