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Radiant Shadows

Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1)

Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1) - This book frustrated me to no end! I eagerly consumed chapter, after chapter, becoming more and more upset with Calla's choices. Its one of those books that, come the end, you want to throw against the wall - one of those books that you can't help but love because it ignited such a passionate response from you.Calla, alpha female for the Nightshade pack, has been preparing to form a new pack through her union to the alpha male of the Bane pack, Ren, for her entire life. She has grown up believing that hers is a sacred duty, and that her Masters, the Keepers, provide for her and her family in exchange for her devout loyalty and protection. Then she meets Shay. As he starts to question her Keepers' motives, her own doubts begin to shadow her once iron-clad beliefs.The choices Calla makes in response to Shay left me wanting to shake her. Even after Shay learned how dangerous the Keepers were, he continued to ask Calla to go against their laws in his quest for knowledge (which is my only real beef with this book; if you loved someone, would you risk their life in the search for the truth?). She jeopardized the safety of her friends and family to soothe his curiosity, due to some unexplainable attraction. It was painful to see Calla's doubts begin to surface, as I genuinely cared about Calla, her brother Ansel, her second Bryn, and her betrothed Ren. I wanted to see them safe and happy, and I knew that that meant Calla needed to follow the path laid out for her by her Keepers. But, the longer I read, the more I realized exactly what was at stake for Calla - her freedom. While she may have feelings for Ren, given the choice, would she still choose to be with him? Can you put a price on personal autonomy? Is risking everything you've ever known wrong, if it means you might end up being in control of your own destiny?That being said, I think a lot of my reluctance to accept Calla's choice to help Shay came from my inability to really connect to him or understand Calla's attraction to him. I loved the playful banter between them, but it didn't add up to anything much deeper then that for me. On the other hand, I loved Ren. He was strong and protective of his pack (and of Calla) but he was still able to show vulnerability, and his background story (a murdered mother and a jackass of a father) really helped to explain certain aspects of his character. And then there was his ability to make me blush during some of his moments with Calla! So fuelled by sexual tension and desire, I almost felt like I had to avert my eyes during one or two of their scenes.I loved the constant presence of the wolf and Cremer's ability to make me understand that Calla is neither a wolf nor a human: she is a Guardian. Unlike your typical werewolf, a Guardian has two souls: the wolf and the human. Because its a choice to show the skin of one or the other, it done with ease (and without pain) and is also why humans are able to keep their clothes between transitions. It's not an actual shift of matter, of human to wolf, its allowing the other half of your soul to be the dominant side for a period of time.And I loved Calla. She is strong and independent (as one would expect an Alpha to be), but she has moments of weakness where she really shines. Her frustration with tradition, where she will only ever be second because she is female, is easily relatable, and the familiarity you feel between her and her pack is completely natural. I did question how easily she forgot her pack when it came to Shay, but she made decisions to keep them safe in the end, so I was able to (mostly) forgive her.The ever-increasing danger, the steamy moments between Calla and both Shay and Ren, and the ease with which Cremer has made the characters be both wolves and humans makes Nightshade a passionate and delightful (if, at times, frustrating) read. I disliked the ending (I can't quit the feeling that she made some wrong choices) and how it left nothing resolved - I don't like being forced to buy the sequel. But in this case, I will most definitely be picking up Wolfsbane to find out what happens next.Originally published on my blog, Radiant Shadows