I was thrilled to see Gabriel - a personal favourite of mine from Bellis' cracking good first novel, Step Into Darkness - get his own story in her third book, Theft of Shadows.
With wit, sarcasm, and elan, Gabriel leaps sword-first into danger the moment he steps back onto English soil. Determined to go straight, he is instead catapulted by an unhappy encounter with a masked thief into the clutches of Sir Alaric, the King's spymaster, and dragged back to the double life he escaped six years before. Only this time, an old, dark magic threatens to master him as well.
Hiding under the guise of a quiet society widow, Anne Tremaine rides out to rob travellers, risking discovery and death to finance her desperate quest. When her plan brings her into conflict with the handsome chevalier, they are drawn to each other despite their secrets and deadly goals.
Sexual tension runs high from the moment of their first meeting. Once again, Bellis proves that she excels at crafting erotic love scenes that are highly physical yet sensitively drawn.
Theft of Shadows is lively fare, combining deception and danger with a sexy battle of wits. Bellis uses her obviously deep knowledge of the time to paint a believable background for her characters, and cloaks her dark mysteries in the strictly controlled movements of late eighteenth century Society. She is equally adept at describing the flash of jewelled society and the dank horror of a haunted crypt. With a nod to her gothic roots, Bellis' deft descriptions evoke just the right atmosphere without overloading the reader's senses or descending into parody.
This third installment brings in characters from both of her previous books. Bellis' use of recurring characters and historically accurate settings creates the impression of an integrated, complex society that supports her stories well. Even when dealing with magic and demonic forces, her characters have understandable, realistic motivations and actions. Both major and minor characters, the heroic and the mundane, have very human desires that move them off the page and into our imaginations.
Naomi Bellis was recently profiled in Canadian Living magazine, who called her "a woman to watch." I couldn't agree with them more.