Friday, December 30, 2005
Midnight Rose by Shelby Reed
This post is the most difficult I’ve written for our blog to date. It’s damned hard to pen the right words when a book leaves you, quite literally, speechless.
That is how Shelby Reed’s Midnight Rose left me. Speechless. Breathless. Spellbound.
Reed’s prose is breathtaking. From the first paragraph, I was caught up in her vivid description; lured deftly into the book’s setting. It is a setting with a life and character all its own and, through Reed’s words, I felt its breath at the back of my neck.
Within pages, Reed not only introduced Kate as our heroine, she made her a woman I’d known all my life. That spark of recognition was the first indicator of Reed’s remarkable characterization.
The next came moments later, when Kate spies Gideon, our hero, from afar. And he catches her watching him. No words are exchanged. Separated by dozens of feet and darkness, not even a true look is exchanged between them. Yet my breath caught. And I held it in anticipation.
I exhaled on the next to the last page of the book.
Not since Roarke began carrying Eve’s lost button as a token of their inexplicable and undeniable connection in Robb’s Naked in Death, has a fictional hero so utterly captivated and mesmerized me. Reed’s Gideon is my “other” Roarke. Through Reed’s skillful characterization, I was enthralled by Gideon’s grace and quiet intelligence. Entranced by his inner darkness. Seduced by his physical and spiritual presence. And when Reed revealed his heart, mine ached.
Kate’s emotional and spiritual strength are palpable—long before either are overtly challenged. Her own intelligence and humor are, as I said, instantly recognizable and served to draw me to her with the same intensity I found in Gideon’s character. As the character most in the dark, Kate is a natural ally for readers. Sharing and believing her perception is critical in the success of this book. Reed garnered that acceptance, my acquiescence, before page ten.
Jude, Gideon’s 13-year-old son, is another beautifully drawn character—true to his age and limitations. Reed’s use of him to epitomize Gideon’s spiritual struggle is exquisite; so subtle it is nearly missed. How she managed to develop Jude’s character without betraying this story’s truth (to himself, Kate and the reader) too early left me shaking my head in wonder. That she was able to elicit unconditional love for this boy, even in the face of unspeakable evil, is extraordinary.
A cast of supporting characters, professions and daily routines serve to enrich the character development of Gideon, Jude and Kate. It all blends seamlessly as Reed ensnares the reader in the same delusion of normalcy lived by each character. In fact, Reed weights every facet in the telling of this story so skillfully, so beautifully that I was drawn forward, toward the truth, steadily, carefully, with an apprehension cast so delicately as to render it almost deniable.
Reed’s writing and remarkable characterization brought this book to life for me. It evoked feeling, tears, laughter and real fear. The love between Kate and Gideon is epic; heart stopping. And Reed tosses the reader about on the same swells of joy, passion and confusion that these two experience. It is an exhausting read, but one that leaves you with an emotional afterglow; changed.
Once captured, I wanted to read Midnight Rose to the exclusion of all else. I didn’t want to sleep, eat, work or play. I longed only to immerse myself in this story; and I never wanted it to end. Yet, Midnight Rose was not a book I could read in one sitting. It is so beautifully written, Reed’s depth of characterization so subtly delivered, her seduction so deeply emotional that I slowed to savor every word, every moment.
My thanks to Ms. Reed for an evocative read. While I’ve tried my best here, I fear even these words do not adequately express how deeply I appreciate a book that touches me on so many levels. I look forward to reading your other work with great anticipation.
In another important and final note of thanks, I must acknowledge Anne for this recommendation. Anne has been at me to read Shelby Reed for some time. Again, words cannot express how happy I am that I did. Discovery of a new (to me) author that moves me like this one did is—as all readers know—a gift to be relished. Thank you again Anne.