Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ariadne's Thread by Marie Treanor

TITLE: Ariadne’s Thread
AUTHOR: Marie Treanor
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 46k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.50

Helping to rob a wealthy man on New Year’s Eve seems like the quickest way for down on her luck Addie McSween to get out of the financial hole she’s in. Until she discovers that the man they’re robbing is the renowned concert pianist, John Maxwell. And that his house is haunted by multiple ghosts. And a snowstorm has stranded them, forcing her to come face to face with the first man to ever make her feel alive…

After reading another book by this author last summer, I promptly went out and bought a number of books from her backlist. Just like I kicked myself then about taking so long to read it, I’m kicking myself again about taking so long getting around to reading other titles by her. Because honestly, this is an author who writes heroes and stories I literally sink into.

This is a ghost story/crime caper gone wrong/romance all rolled up into one. Addie is a single mother from Glasgow, who’s hooked up with her brother and his criminal friends to be the driver on their heist. They’re robbing a house out in the middle of nowhere on New Year’s Eve, using the party with its numerous guests who come and go as their cover. Things go wrong almost from the start, however, when Addie, who’s supposed to keep an eye out, gets caught by the owner of the house. He introduces himself as Johnny, and she pretends to be a friend of his sister’s, but the chemistry between them is electric. Things go even more awry when the weather turns, and the sister wanders into the middle of the robbery, and there’s no way to get out of the house until morning at the earliest. Amidst all this, Addie is convinced she’s seeing ghosts, and then discovers that they’re there to steal original music from one of Scotland’s greatest composers – a man who turns out to be Johnny’s great-grandfather.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of what happens in this short novel. The author packs a ton of story in, with remarkable ease. It never feels overdone or incomprehensible, and instead manages a couple surprises along the way. It is, in turn, an incredibly delectable romance, a farcical crime caper, and an eerie ghost story, with each element genuine within the moment. They blend almost seamlessly, in ways I find few authors can pull off, and I’m incapable of picking a favorite since I was drawn into each equally.

Perhaps key to ensuring this balance is kept is the vivid cast of characters. I loved Addie and Johnny almost from the start. They are sharp-witted, hard-edged, and intelligent (though Addie’s impulsive nature backfires on her more than once). Johnny, especially, embodies one of my favorite hero types—the tortured artist who needs to find a way to return to the world. In Johnny’s case, he’s retired from his own career as a professional concert pianist, due to the scandal that erupted when he was charged and tried for his wife’s murder a year earlier. The result was Not Proven, so doubt has lingered in the public’s mind about his innocence. That same doubt is there for the reader for a good part of the story, too, which adds to that air of danger he carries about him.

The secondary cast is vast and colorful, with most of them receiving good treatment when it came to rounding them out. For some unknown reason, I had a soft spot for Malky, the brute force on their heist team, though I suspect it’s because he has a Lennie Small air to him. I’m also dying to know more about Dan, Johnny’s brother-in-law. Something tells me, he has a lot of story to tell himself. The ghosts themselves feature prominently, as easy to recognize as any of the living. I bought into their existence without any problem at all, and applauded Johnny’s great-grandmother more than once.

The story’s not perfect, but my complaints about it are minor. It’s not quite as clean a copy as I expect from Samhain, and the book I purchased had a few odd formatting problems. I wouldn’t be surprised that’s because it’s an older title. It was released in 2008, and Samhain has come a long way since then. I’m also not entirely fond of the author’s frequent choice to switch to minor character POVs every once in a while. It doesn’t really add to the story very much, and I ended up spending/wasting time wondering how that character is going to factor into a larger role in the story since apparently they’re important enough to merit their POV shown. It’s distracting. But again, these are minor complaints, because when it comes down to it, I’m falling head over heels for this author’s work. This is the second hero of hers in a row that has completely pushed my buttons, with heroines I admire to boot. I only wish this one was available in print, so I could get one for my literal shelves as well as the one for my virtual shelf.


8/10 – Not as clean as I would expect from Samhain, but the author’s voice compensated for it


9/10 – Hurt, enigmatic, and compelling


8/10 – The authenticity about her really drew me in

Entertainment value

9/10 – I literally couldn’t stop once I’d started

World building

8/10 – When the ghosts are just as real and believable as the living, something right has been done



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