Set in Victorian England (no year is specified, but based on the descriptions, I am guessing this takes place somewhere around 1850s-1860s), Shadows of the Night tells the story of the Honorable Mr. Colin Radcliffe, heir to a vicounty, and his marriage to the perfect woman -- someone quiet and resilient to have children and live a quiet life with. He will continue to have mistresses and live his somewhat passionless, stoic life on the side. But Fern isn't the woman he had thought she was. She seems demure and proper enough, but underneath her primness lies an independent, passionate woman with secret desires and a wantonness even she hadn't been aware of possessing. Colin is appalled but strangely drawn to his wife. She makes him feel alive, especially when she gets rough on him. Erotic encounters beyond his wildest dreams ensue, and Fern turns out to be not just the perfect bed partner, but also -- could it be possible? -- a good friend. But things may be destroyed when he and Fern travel to an old estate in need of restoration. The Restons are responsible for the repairs, but instead of using the funds to fix up the place, they have been keeping the money for themselves. They have been doing this to the Radcliffes for centuries. They hold a secret that has kept the Radcliffe dynasty in their power for many generations. What could this big secret be?
Lydia Joyce has written quite a vivid gothic romance novel. Shadows of the Night is beautifully written. Having read and enjoyed Music of the Night, I see that Joyce's eye for historical detail is dead on. There are some modern words and expressions sprinkled here and there, but other than that the descriptions of Victorian England are quite accurate. The erotic scenes are wonderful as well. The switch from indifference to sexual tension to intense love are nicely shown. My one complaint is that the book is too short and the story is sort of rushed in certain areas. The whole thing with the mystery surrounding the estate and the Restons confused me at first, and things didn't make sense until the book's final pages. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. Well-written and fascinating historical romance novels are few and far in between. Most of them are nothing more than 21st century characters in period costume. I am glad to see that Joyce is not the author of one of those books.