Review: Shadowed Loyalty by Roseanna M. White
#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.
Synopsis: When criminal charges are brought against her father, mob boss’s daughter Sabina Mancari sees the world of the Mafia for what it truly is: dark, deceptive, cruel, and self-serving. She also begins to see her fiancé—the very same one she betrayed with the undercover Prohibition officer who busted her father—in a new light. In the Light. When her father becomes embroiled in one man’s feverish mission of revenge, will Sabina cling to the Light and the love she has found, or will the darkness overcome it?
The moment I found out Roseanna M. White was releasing Mafia Princess—I mean, Shadowed Loyalty into the world, I nearly squealed with excitement! I love the Roaring 20s and the Mafia and all of it (actually...I don’t really love it, because it was all very dark, but it makes for good stories *winks*), and I was eager to read White’s take on it!
Naturally, I had high expectations for this book...and I think it exceeded them.
Shadowed Loyalty definitely stands out from White’s other novels. Apart from her biblical fiction novels, SL was the darkest of her works, and it certainly wasn’t the traditional romance. Like Dreams of Savannah, White focused more on themes and character arcs than she did developing a romance from start to finish (in both DOS and SL, the hero and heroine were already engaged to be wed), but I actually really enjoyed and appreciated that! (Y’all, Enzo and Bean’s relationship was so much better than Phineas’ and Delia’s, just sayin’.)
As far as the grittier elements go, White handled them all tastefully, realistically but not gratuitously, and with a biblical perspective—all of which I greatly appreciated, of course. (I can stomach a lot more than most readers, so some of the *coughs* relationships in here didn’t both me like they would most people...but none of them were detailed, which was a relief. I don’t mind including things like prostitution and extramarital affairs, but don’t treat them like the main romance. Don’t treat them like it’s fun and games. Treat them like it’s harsh reality and vile sin, showing the motivations and consequences with clarity. Which White did exceptionally well!)
Speaking of all this, the themes in this. Gosh, y’all. It was so very relevant and applicable, because as Sabina and Lorenzo felt like lone candles in the dark dungeon of the Mafia, we often feel in this depraved world overrun by Satan. But just like Bean and Enzo learned, we were called to be the light, the immortal diamond, and our light—which is the Light of Christ—will be used to change other people, whether through a single lighted candle and whispered prayer, or through diving into the line of fire for them. And that light will never be extinguished.
The only qualm I had was how loosely the word love was thrown around. Fortunately, Bean made it clear that she and Roman never loved each other, but love was still applied to whatever Manny felt for his family (and those outside of it) and others. In truth, love doesn’t hurt those whom we love. Love is patient, kind, selfless...and I wished the virtues of love had been explored and defined rather than the term love being slapped like a label on every nice feeling or kind action. I understand that it’s hard to find another word, and that perhaps that painful love is as close to the real deal as humanity can get, but still. Could’ve slipped 1 Corinthians 13 in there, just for good measure.
And I’ll be honest. I. Loved. The Catholicism. I know all my Baptist friends are gonna start hating on me, but y’all. The way Catholicism was portrayed in here was so beautiful and genuine; just simple, true faith in God. No confusing theology or divisive doctrines. Just Christianity, which is neither Catholic nor Protestant. And I appreciated that so much! I would love to see more Christian fiction with Catholic characters, fiction that can unite both Protestant and Catholic under Christ’s banner of love.
Now, y’all are probably waiting for me to get into the good stuff, like the characters and plot and prose and pacing and all those fun technicalities, aren’t you?
Well, I think we’ve all been around each other long enough to know that White can write (the rhyme was intentional), and that I always love her prose, no matter if it’s written with a clipped London accent or in flowing descriptions.
This story was definitely very character-driven (most of White’s are, actually), and while that can often result in (1) a story that drags like crazy , (2) a story that’s far too short, (3) or a story with no solid focus. This was none of those. It was perfectly paced; not too fast, not too slow, consistently and smoothly flowing over everything in a way that was intense but not stressful. (Books stress me out. I’m that sensitive.)
And even though I’ve noticed a plotline decline (again, intentional) in some of White’s other books (i.e., On Wings of Devotion and Dreams of Savannah...both of which were still awesome stories regardless), the plot in SL was perfect. Very focused on the characters and their actions...but since I didn’t know quite what they’d do next, it was very suspenseful and kept me guessing!
(Let’s face it. Suspense/mystery novels should all be character-driven.)
Speaking of the characters...y’all. This was hard.
Of course, I didn’t love Bean...but I didn’t hate her or dislike her or even feel nothing for her (which is quite common for me and heroines). I actually liked her and enjoyed her character (mainly because she wasn’t obnoxious or bothersome), even though she didn’t really have a personality. Like, at all.
Then there’s Enzo. He was so perfect, and I admire him to bits, but I’ve found that I tend to fall for the imperfect bad boys, so there’s that. Still, great hero, just not my type. (Scratch that. He’s my type in real life, just not in fiction. *winks*)
And Roman. Oh. My. Gosh. I hated this man. I hated his guts. Not necessarily because he was a filthy, rotten, stinkin’ mongrel...but because he was annoying. I can handle mongrels. But not annoying people. He did grow on me, and I have very high hopes that White will write a sequel and redeem his blighted soul.
So just who was my favorite character in this novel? The answer will surprise you…
Seriously. This girl. Oh, y’all, she was just hilarious! Her deadpan humor was classic, and of course I just felt for her so much. I think the tenderhearted prostitute character may be overdone a little in some circles (I feel like I’ve read a lot of similar characters, even though I can’t tell you what in), but Sally wasn’t cookie cutter. I kinda ship her and Roman, even though, to be honest? She deserves better.
(And then there’s Ava. Liked her too. All these sweet women with tragic backstories are gonna make me cry.)
Moving on...loved the cast and how vibrant they were, even if I ended up rooting for Sally the whole time, and the romance between Enzo and Bean was just precious! I LOVE how we started a dialogue about purity and passion and how both are important and can coexist...Julie Lessman would be proud.
(Or she will be. As soon as I convince her to read this…)
Case in point: I need a sequel. Or five. Seriously. Sally and Roman gotta get their lives right and get together. Isadora and maybe Tony can get together. Helen and either Cliff or Val.
Unless...what if Sally and Cliff (kinda ship them too, actually) and Helen and Roman got together? Hmm...I must think on this. It’d be simpler and whole lot less messy if Sal and Rom got hitched, but WAIT. A LOVE TRIANGLE. WE MUST HAVE A LOVE TRIANGLE.
*rushes off to plot a fanfiction sequel to Shadowed Loyalty called Shrouded Devotionor Shaded Faith.*
Long story short, good book. Need more. Bye.
Seriously, though, Shadowed Loyalty was a refreshing read after a lot of duds without heart or soul...it was literally a novel of light vs. dark, good vs. evil, in a clash of loyalties and love that will tug at your heartstrings and make you wonder...have you gotten comfortable in your own darkness? Have you turned a blind eye to all that’s wrong in your life? Or are you striving to live pure and holy?
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided bythe publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
(PS: After writing that synopsis, I realize that the song “You Belong to Me” by Grey Holiday fits this story perfectly.)
snag your copy
about the author
Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. She and her family make their home in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.