So this is a secret baby book. I hate secret baby books. HATE. I hate them so much that my review policies caution people against sending them to me.
Except…I loved this secret baby book.
Into the Shadows, the third book in Carolyn Crane’s Undercover Associates series, features undercover Associate Thorne, who isn’t really an official part of the group. He’s a self-contained unit, tasked with taking down a large criminal syndicate and the highly placed government officials shielding it, from the inside. Vengeance for his sister’s murder years before is what drives him and he’s spent years getting to a place where he can kill the last guy involved in her death. Heroine Nadia is the daughter of Thorne’s former boss, who died two years before. While Thorne was working for Nadia’s dad the two of them were an item and unbeknownst to Thorne, Nadia got pregnant shortly before they broke up. Fast forward to the present and their son, Benny, is almost two years old.
The major reason I loved this book is Thorne. Thus far, the Associates books have worked well for me largely because of the heroines. And Nadia is terrific. She’s fierce, protective and smart. She has her own goals that have nothing to do with the hero. In fact, she never expected to see him again. She was heartbroken when he left, but she has gone on with her life and I loved her for it. But it’s tortured, messed up Thorne who made this book for me. He thinks he’s a bad guy, a thug and unworthy of love. He doesn’t trust anyone. He can’t take a compliment. Both he and Nadia think he’d be a terrible father. The only reason he and Nadia ever got together in the first place is that she told him to fuck off. And while Nadia has some of her own demons to slay, it’s Thorne’s emotional journey toward being able to accept the love and intimacy Nadia offers that made this story so gripping for me.
Previous stories in this series have been quite epic. In general, the protagonists have been saving the world, or at least a bunch of innocents, from certain destruction. Into the Shadows is a much more personal, intimate, family-oriented plot. Thorne’s issues stem largely from his dysfunctional childhood. Nadia’s wasn’t much better. And the two of them have to band together to save both Nadia’s mother and their son. The result is a poignant, closely-written, emotional book. Honestly, I had no idea romantic suspense could be this good.
So if you aren’t reading the Associates series, you should start, even if you’re not that into romantic suspense. Maybe not with this one since you’ll have more background on the secondary characters if you read them in order (and the fourth book just came out this week), but yeah. Start today.
The connection between bourbon chocolate milkshakes and Into the Shadows will probably not be apparent to anyone but me. But there are several key scenes involving whiskey and one right at the very end of the book involving some ice cream.
So I’ll just say this: what are milkshakes but ice cream that has been melted strategically?
This recipe couldn’t be easier. Just put everything in a blender and blend until smooth. The only bit of advice I have is that actually, the quality of the ice cream seems to be more important than the quality of the bourbon. Though I used pretty good bourbon here because I just don’t really buy bad bourbon. This isn’t the time to go generic on the ice cream though. You want the creamy richness of premium chocolate ice cream. I’ve found that if I use the cheap stuff it just takes more of it to get the consistency right because it has more air whipped in. So yeah. Häagen-Dazs or your favorite local artisan brand is the way to go.
Oh, and try not to fall over when you drink this much alcohol and sugar through a straw.
- 4 ounces bourbon
- 4 ounces chocolate syrup
- 3 1/2 cups good quality chocolate ice cream
- Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on low speed for 15-30 seconds. Pour into glasses.
July 16, 2014
Disclosure: I am friendly with Carolyn Crane on Twitter and often receive ARCs from her, but I purchased Into the Shadows myself.