Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012
Code of Shadows #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Suspense
Format(s): Paperback, e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
He finds the girl of his dreams…with the secret agent of his nightmares.
Alix Gordon is a woman who doesn’t take life too seriously. What’s the fun in that? So when she stumbles across occult software that can bring any computer image to life, she conjures up lots of awesome outfits and accessories. And then, on one drunken, horny night, she conjures up Sir Kendall, the sexy TV ad spy . . . who looks exactly like Paul Reinhardt, the super-sexy martial arts teacher who kicked her out of class three years ago.
Fighter Paul Reinhardt has good reason to hate Sir Kendall, the character he brought to life to land a part in a TV ad; he’d do anything to forget him. A cross country road trip seems just the thing . . . until Paul finds himself inexplicably drawn to Minnesota and is shocked to discover Sir Kendall – in the flesh – with the girl he’d once loved from afar. He barges into Alix and Sir Kendall’s love nest, determined to stop the madness – somehow.
But is superspy Sir Kendall transforming into something more dangerous anyone can imagine? And what will Sir Kendall do when Paul and Alix finally give into their mad lust for each other?
What I’m talking about:
Alix Gordon has inherited her crazy Great Aunt Veronica’s old home, one that her family believes is shrouded in dark magic. When Alix finds a necklace on her front porch that she’d been admiring on her computer, she believes she may have a stalker. But soon, Alix pieces together that the necklace came from her computer. She and her BFF, Karen, realize that the old 5-1/4 inch floppy she discovered in the house and uploaded onto her computer contained magic code.
One drunken and lonely night, in order to prove that the computer is in fact magic, Alix decides to “order” a man of her own from the image of the one guy she can’t forget, “Hardass Paul.” Paul, a martial arts instructor from Alix’s past, has a secret – he plays the character “Sir Kendall” in liquor commercials overseas. (I totally imagined a younger version of THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD
commercials.) Sir Kendall is a James Bond type, and he always fades to black after his drink. Alix thinks she’ll be swept off her feet for a little fun and then he’s gone. Too bad magic doesn’t work the way she planned. A very real Sir Kendall is working to save the world and thinks Alix is a spy. Luckily Paul is inexplicably drawn to her home, and soon all three are in a huge mess!
One of the things that I really enjoyed about Mr. Real is that the story is told from multiple points of view (POV). Each of the three main characters had such contrasting perceptions of what was happening, the multiple POVs made the story much richer. In addition, Ms. Crane did a marvelous job with details and descriptions. And one of my favorite things was how she constantly described that items from the computer were almost surreal and larger than life.
Although Alix brings in Sir “Nick” Kendall for some fun (i.e. sex), the pair really have no chemistry. As they get to know each other, we witness that Alix feels responsible for Nick – this unaware, new human. She blindly decides that he is her responsibility, yet she goes too the extreme – neglecting obvious signs that perhaps this creation is dangerous. Meanwhile Sir Kendall is trapped in a world full of mystery and intrigue. He sees plots everywhere and is frustrated he cannot communicate with “his people.” She is holding back… knowing he isn’t real. And he is holding back because he thinks she’s a spy.
Alix is a bit flaky at times. It seems that she’s full of heart, but lousy on execution. So when she gets into this mess, I felt really bad for her. I liked that she did have a good head on her shoulders; however, she didn’t always use it. She is always trying to prove herself to her family, friends and those around her, but she uses sex, humor and her own oddity as shields. As Sir Kendall quickly observed:
Alix hated to wait, hated to be stilled–she always needed to be moving. Constant movement and a lack of seriousness dulled sensation. This was a woman, perhaps, who felt too deeply. (quote from uncorrected copy).
At times throughout the story, I became a bit annoyed with Alix’s refusal to listen to Paul or Karen and that she blatantly refuses to even consider something “wrong.” When viewed from Paul’s POV, Alix comes across as a jerk since she won’t consider the counsel of her REAL friends. Yet, when we get Alix’s POV, she comes across like a lost, hurt puppy dog. She’s been so wounded in her life, that she’ll blindly hold on to something she thinks will make things right.
Everything changes when Paul arrives. We discover that Sir Kendall is the product of an abusive childhood that continues to haunt Paul to this day. Imagine Paul’s shock upon discovering a look alike is out there pretending to be his worst nightmare. Paul interrupts what he perceives as Nick torturing Alix, and he goes to TOWN on Nick. Watching Paul in that moment was so painful, to see him freaking out over something from his youth.
Paul and Alix do have something special. And through memories, we learn that Paul really did fall for Alix all those years ago. The more Paul is in the story, the more I like him. And after some convincing, it was good to have Paul know and believe the truth of the situation. I really enjoyed the pair, I just wish they didn’t take so long to break down their walls and confide in one another.
I found as the story went on that I began to get frustrated with some of the unexplained things… not the “science” of how the magic worked, but unanswered questions like why is there a gorilla cage in the backyard, and what are the Falcon letters? or Why didn’t anyone notice that the money being tossed around by Sir Kendall was counterfeit? I also would have like to seen more of Alix’s friend, Karen and Sir Kendall’s nemesis, Hyko.
As the story grew to a climax, characters changed and grew. This is to be expected, but I have to say that the way in which the events played out threw me for a loop. I had it in my head that things would go down one way, so when they didn’t, I rebelled against the process and felt that they way in which situations were reconciled were inappropriate. However, once I finished reading the book and spent some time thinking about the entire picture, I realized that it all made perfect sense, and I ended up liking it much more than what I imagined. (It’s a really good thing Ms. Crane wrote this book and not me!)
In the end, Mr. Real is a fantastic start to what I hope to be a long lasting new series for Ms. Crane. The romance was light, but appropriate for the storyline. The geek in me wanted more explanations, but really, just like the characters brought to life, there isn’t always a background, and I just have to except things as they are. The story has almost an urban fantasy feel to it, in that you don’t know what will happen to our characters next. Oh, and there are still copies of that code out there! I look forward to finding out what stories lie ahead.
Liked it – recommend (B+)
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. For more information, see author Carolyn Crane’s guest post HERE