I wasn't going to write a review, because this book's rating is appropriate in my opinion (I would give it a 4 1/2, but a 5 is more appropriate than a 4). When I read the reviewer that accused this book of being homophobic and racist, however, I had to put in my two cents to clarify this for anyone who might decide not to purchase Silk and Shadows based on those statements. I'm going to address the racist part first.
This author has written several other books that I have read where there is "interracial" relationships: Thunder & Roses, Angel Rogue, The China Bride, and The Wild Child (secondary character). Yes, the "ethnic" characters were "mixed", but there was a very reasonable explanation for that -- Ms. Putney had to explain why they were in England! Why would Nicholas have been with an English Earl instead of the Rom if he were fully Rom? Why would Maxie have come to England rather than stay in America with her Mohawk tribe if she weren't half English? In this book it seemed obvious to me that the reason wasn't in regards to why Mikahl would come to England, but more as to why he was willing to stay. If he had been Kafi in truth, he would have felt torn (given his personality) in staying, despite Sara being English. In fact, he felt a pull to England because it had been his birthplace, where he'd spent his "formative years", and where he found solace in home and family. His origins were a relatively important literary device as to how he developed a connection to the villain as well. Had he not been English, there would have been no reason for Weldon's *initial* actions to make sense. (And please note I said initial. What happens later is obviously not related to his nationality.) Which also brings me to my final thought on this, which is that Sara married Mikahl believing he was Kafi. She was completely willing to accept him as foreign, and was surprised by his nationality (not race, by the way, but nationality). She even is accepting of his "rank" and his ancestry! To turn a reasonable literary device into an accusation of racism is confusing and unfair to a very eloquent author.
As to homophobia, this claim makes even less sense. The villain was not homosexual! He was a PEDOPHILE! To imply that his villainy lay in any form of homosexuality is vastly insulting, as it implies that homosexuals are somehow pedophiles! In fact, Weldon is an opportunistic pedophile who actually PREFERS girls (specifically very young virgins), but is willing to accept a boy instead. That would indicate that he likes gender neutral appearances (given that Jenny could be mistaken for an 11 year old, that should be obvious), and was originally attracted to a boy because he was "...a pretty lad, though [he] could certainly use a good scrubbing." On that note, there is also the statement that Mikahl somehow believes that abuse of a boy is somehow worse than the abuse of a girl. That statement strikes me as odd given that "He was struck by a sudden image of Jenny as she might have looked her first night in the brothel; her childlike face mirrored everything he himself had felt..." Where does that indicate that he believed that her suffering was not as severe as a boy's might have been? Then his following feelings were that "...finally he understood why Sara was so profoundly upset." Despite his belief that attempting to free as many of Weldon's victims as possible as opposed to focusing on vengeance would be an exercise in futility, he recognized the point that Sara was trying to make. That doesn't strike me as believing that one crime was somehow worse than the other.
One other point to address is the believability of the villain. While there is nothing wrong with bondage/domination or sado-masochism when practiced between consenting adults (as far as *I* am concerned), you have a man who derives sexual satisfaction from abusing children -- it would be reasonable (and common, unfortunately) for that person to enjoy pain infliction and domination of them as well. When a person is willing or amoral/immoral enough to do horrendous acts on one front, he (or she) may, and in fact is likely to, be willing to do horrendous acts on many fronts. I am pleased to see that so many people have never been exposed to people so vile that they are eerily reminiscent of this particular villain. I've seen those like Weldon first hand in my career, and I can attest to at least some of the accuracy of his vileness.
Ms. Putney, as always, does an excellent job of addressing a very dramatic and emotionally charged subject. She also manages to do so touchingly and (as mentioned before) eloquently. I leave with one of my favorite quotes:
"...most of all, I want to be the man that I am only when I am with you." What a guy!
While Mikahl's not my favorite of her heroes (that privilege goes to Robin from Petals in the Storm and Angel Rogue), he is more real than almost every other hero in every other romance novel I have read.
Edited to add: to all of those who believe that Weldon is too outrageous to be real, look up Joseph Edward Duncan, III. If this type of person can exist in real life, there's no reason to think that Weldon isn't believable.