Fade to Midnight

( 91 )

Overview

"McKenna introduces us to fleshed-out characters in a tailspin plot that culminates in an explosive ending. " —Fresh Fiction

Gone But Not Forgotten

When the McCloud brothers discover that Kev is still alive, they won't rest until they find him. . . Beaten and tortured, Kev Larsen was found eighteen years earlier in a warehouse alley. He survived his brutal ordeal, but his memories before that night were completely erased. When he nearly dies ...

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Fade To Midnight

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Overview

"McKenna introduces us to fleshed-out characters in a tailspin plot that culminates in an explosive ending. " —Fresh Fiction

Gone But Not Forgotten

When the McCloud brothers discover that Kev is still alive, they won't rest until they find him. . . Beaten and tortured, Kev Larsen was found eighteen years earlier in a warehouse alley. He survived his brutal ordeal, but his memories before that night were completely erased. When he nearly dies saving someone from drowning, the brain surgery he has to save his life triggers fragmented, terrifying images. With only these fractured scenes to guide him, Kev is determined to unlock the secrets to his past.

Edie Parrish has always been good at not letting anyone get too close to her. If the wrong person were to learn of her unusual gift, her life would be immediately jeopardized. But when Kev Larsen discovers who she really is, Edie's only choice is to trust him. And soon, Edie can't resist her consuming desire for him—even though she knows she'll have to pay a price for it.

"Blasts readers with a highly charged, action-adventure romance... extra-steamy. " —Booklist

"Pulse-pounding. . .with searing sex and raw emotions. " —Romantic Times, 4 ½ Stars

"Intense feelings, hard core adventure, and passionate combustion. . . I highly recommend. " —Coffee Time Romance

"Blends an intensely terrifying psychic thriller with a mind-blowing erotic romance. " —Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kevin McCloud, believed dead for 18 years, resurfaces in fantastic fashion in McKenna's latest red-hot McCloud sizzler (Edge of Midnight; etc.). After recovering from an injury suffered while trying to prevent a drowning, Kev, now 40-ish, begins remembering what happened leading up to the traumatic events that left him an amnesiac and is lured back into the dark web cast by the evil scientists intent on completing the now-dead psycho scientist Christopher Osterman's devious mind-control invention. When Kev meets graphic novelist Edie Parrish at a book signing, they forge a connection that's deeper than romantic; as it turns out, Edie has psychic powers, a history with Osterman, and believes Kev may have inspired the hero of her graphic novel. McKenna's steamy style, sci-fi twists, and possible family reunion makes this the best McCloud update yet, but readers who aren't already well versed in the series will want to start with the earlier volumes. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758228659
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,152,222
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Fade to Midnight


By SHANNON MCKENNA

BRAVA BOOKS

Copyright © 2010 Shannon McKenna
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-2865-9


Chapter One

I am fucked.

The thought flicked through Kev's head, calm and detached. The roar of icy water filled his ears. The current would pull him loose in counted seconds. Seconds measured by the pounding pulse of blood through his brain. Each throb hurt like a raving motherlover, but there was nothing like imminent death to take a guy's mind off a headache.

His little angel's face flashed through his mind. His dream companion, his spirit guide. Her big eyes looked sad, and scared. He'd known since he got out of bed that today was going to be the day. He'd had that prickle, as if someone were looking at the back of his neck. Not surprising, since he'd set the day aside for high-adrenaline sports activities, his chief joy in what passed for his life. One would think, having gotten a clue from the Great Beyond that death lurked nearby, that a reasonable, sane person would spend the day on the couch, watching reruns. Cruising the mall bookstore, reading about mindfulness or voluntary simplicity. Lying low in a multiplex, watching a nature documentary. Sipping a green tea latte. Well out of sight.

Not him. The reasonable, sane parts of himself were out in space. Along with his memories and his normal and natural fear of death. Danger? Bring it the fuck on. He should be dead already anyway. Look at his face. Kids ran screaming to mommy when they saw his bad side.

Cold had numbed the pain. He no longer felt his hand, clamped around the boughs of the dead tree. He did not feel the compound fracture in his other arm. His injured limb flopped in the water, sucked by the current, a few yards from the head of the falls. His broken bone tented out the nylon of his jacket, pinkish with blood. But he doubted he'd be using that arm again, once the water flung him over the brink.

Whatever. He'd been smash totaled years ago. Living on borrowed time. Half a brain, half a life. No clue at all.

Don't start with that. Just shut the fuck up. He did crazy shit like this for the express purpose of keeping himself too zapped with adrenaline to indulge in self pity. That was why he hung off the edge of cliffs, hang-glided treacherous air currents, rafted badass rapids. When he was that close to death, he felt buzzing, connected. Almost alive.

Since Tony found him he'd had some mechanism functioning that damped his emotional volume way down. High enough for function, but no more. Probably caused by the trauma to his brain that had caused the amnesia, and rendered him speechless, back in the bad old days.

Whatever it was, he was bored with it. If he could, he'd join the military, fly fighter jets. Playing with toys like that, yeah. Talk about a coping mechanism. But the military wouldn't want a guy with crossed wires, a questionable identity and a black hole in his mind to fly their hundred million dollar toys. They'd put him to work cleaning engines. If they took him at all. No, he had to make do with high-risk sports. They kicked his ass into high gear, and he liked that gear. The color, the noise. The buzz of being awake to it, aware of it. Giving a shit.

He'd gotten what he wanted. But he was going to pay big. He stared at the top of the falls. Clouds of vapor rose from the thundering tons of water crashing down, hundreds of feet below. How many hundreds? He tried to remember. Several. Well over three. Whoo hah.

Not that he was afraid of dying. At most, he was curious. Sorry he'd never unravel the great questions of his existence, at least not as a living man, and who knew what happened after? He'd never speculated. His present mortal existence was problem enough, for as long as he could remember. Roughly half of his life. He didn't know how old he was. Tony put him around twenty when he'd saved Kev from the warehouse thug eighteen years ago. So he was fortyish. Give or take.

At least the boy was going to make it. Kev was immobilized by tons of rushing icewater, but out of the corner of his eye, he saw activity in the trees choking the cliffside shore. Rescue proceedings were underway. Other people besides Kev had been at the point when he'd put ashore, where he'd seen the kids spin past, oarless and out of control. Only a guy with a black hole in his brain would be suicidal enough to jump in after them at that point in the rapids, but he'd taken no time to ponder that implacable truth. He just went for it.

And then, a long, hopeless wrestle with nature while the water got wilder, the roar of the falls louder.

While death approached, smiling. Happy to see him. His old pal.

Maybe he'd subconsciously wanted it. Bruno threw that death wish crap in his face a lot, whenever he got cracked up doing daredevil sports. Could be. Not worth worrying about, though. Particularly now.

The kids had capsized by the time he caught up. Kev saw a bobbing head and scooped one out of the water by sheer, blind luck. Then they plunged into a trough, the raft flipped, and they were tossed like twigs, the boy flailing, choking. He'd clamped the kid against him, struggled, kicked. He'd wanted to save that kid. Wanted it ferociously. He was played out, now, though. In fact, he felt strangely serene.

The other boy was gone, over the falls. That was fucked, and he was sorry. Rescue was on the way for the other one, but the greedy way the water sucked at the tree told him the hard truth.

He was going down. Anytime.

He forced his head to turn, checked on the kid. Sixteen or so. A drowned rat, clinging to the lucky side of the rock that split the top of the falls into two long, thin tails, hence the name, Twin Tails Falls. The weight of rushing water pinned him against the bulwark of the rock. He couldn't move if he wanted to. But he'd live. That was good.

It wasn't strength or skill that had smacked them up against that jutting rock. Just chance. And then, just as fast, bam. That bastard came up so fast, he barely shoved the kid out of the way before the tree trunk snapped his arm, smashed God only knew what else in his thorax, knocked him loose-and then spun out perpendicular to the falls, catching on a rock across the torrent. It formed a barrier, trapping him against a temporary dam. But not for long.

Smashing him, then saving him. When it worked loose, it would fuck him again, definitively. He'd ride that bastard out over the cliff.

The story of his life. Something inside him laughed, with stony irony. Wasn't it always the way. Like Tony, who'd dragged Kev out of his own rapids years ago, and kept him there, brain damaged, shambling and speechless. Washing dishes, mopping floors for room and board at the diner. Lying on a sagging cot, watching paint peel in the windowless mildewed room behind the diner where he'd slept. For fucking years.

The rope thrown out to save him. The same rope that he strangled himself on. It was almost funny. Except that it wasn't.

The tree was about to go. The branches stuck on the rocks on the other side were wavering, wild water bending the flexible limbs, teasing them loose. The tree shuddered, rolled. The water sucked and insisted.

Any time now. He composed himself, tried to pay attention, to be present for it, to breathe. Difficult. So cold. So much water. The kid's mouth gaped, begging Kev to do something. As if he could swim against that current, even if he weren't fucked-up. He had as much strength left as a broken doll. A final swell shook the tree loose. The ponderous slow motion made those last moments of clinging stretch out, infinitely long.

He struggled to stay conscious. The last wild ride. He'd better enjoy it. He wondered if he'd know, once he was dead, who he'd been before. What he'd done, who he'd known. Who he'd loved.

Probably not. This was all he got. It would just have to do.

Whoosh, the river rolled him under the tree and spat him far out into vastness. Endless space, above, below. Turning, head over ass.

The angel flashed across his mind. Those big gray eyes, so achingly sweet. A sharp sting of regret that he didn't understand. And another face, too, scowling his disapproval as the immutable laws of physics had their stern way with him. A face he saw in his dreams every night. A young guy. His face maddeningly familiar.

Kev had been having a dream argument with that guy, that very morning, he suddenly remembered. The man had been scolding him.

"Dying is easy. You told me that yourself," the guy said. "It's living that's hard. Meathead. Hypocrite. You piss me off."

So that was how he'd known today would be dangerous.

Part of his mind hooted and shrieked with unreasoning joy at the icy rush of air and water on his face. Whoa. This shit is fun. Another part pondered acceleration rates of falling objects, wind shear, probable force of impending impact on the rocks below. He calculated it down to ten digits after the decimal in that last, eternal instant- And hurtled into a blank, white nothing.

Goddamnit to hell. Thick, stupid, useless cow.

Ava Cheung refocused her mind to a laser point. So much information streamed through the human nervous system to make a body move smoothly through space. So much of it was automatic. One couldn't fathom how much until one tried to provide the impulses for someone else's body, using one's own will while simultaneously suppressing theirs. Mandy was responding poorly. Shuffling, clumsy. Ava could not get the girl to shut her mouth and keep it closed. The drooling was driving her crazy, and it was all the more grotesque with Mandy's sexpot beauty, her heavily lashed blue eyes vacant behind the goggles, her pupils vastly dilated by the X-Cog prep drugs.

Ava fancied that X-Cog master-crowning required a skill level comparable to what it must take to play an instrument at a professional level. It required intense concentration to make the crowned person move and speak naturally. Unless you upped the doses, which lowered the subject's resistance, but melted their brains in a scant hour. Not cost efficient. One had to be a virtuoso, like her, and Dr. O, of course.

This rendered the X-Cog interface less commercially feasible. How many people were willing to put in the hours to hone a new skill? People were lazy, contemptible slobs, as a rule. They needed things to be easy.

Ava was committed to finding a way to make X-Cog accessible to anyone with the money to pay for it, and Mandy was the umpteenth effort to that end. But a virtuoso needed a decent instrument to play. Not a thick, dull, unresponsive piece of shit.

Ava yanked off the master crown and flung it onto the table, more forcefully than she should have, considering how much it cost to develop and produce. The streamlined silver cap was very different from Dr. O's heavy, clunky design, which had given her tension headaches. Dr. O hadn't bothered with aesthetics. Dr. O had been a results man.

The new design was her own graceful innovation. Everything essential was there, but the end result was a light-as-air tangle of flexible wires and sensors on a light mesh cap. Both master and slave crowns were designed to be easily concealed beneath a hat, scarf, or wig.

Ava's brilliance was wasted on Mandy. The dumb little bitch was going straight into the shredder. Mandy whimpered as Ava wrenched goggles and crown off the girl's head, yanking out long blond hair. She whipped the master crown glasses off. Stupid, talentless cow. Crowning her was like trying to send nervous impulses through a lump of clay.

Ava smoothed glossy black hair back and stared at Mandy, who swayed on her feet, gaping. The girl was dressed in the silver spandex jog bra and shorts that Ava had mandated as a uniform for X-Cog test subjects. She liked her girls to look sexy and sharp. But Mandy looked anything but sharp, with drool trailing off her chin.

The look on the girl's face disgusted her. She slapped Mandy. The girl stumbled against the table, looking vaguely confused.

Ava slapped her again, harder. And again. Smack. Smack. Blood trickled from Mandy's nose, from her split lip. The girl's hands crept up, tried to cover her face. Ava struck Mandy's ears, whapped the back of her head, knocking her forward. Mandy thudded heavily to her knees.

"Back off, Av. That's millions of dollars you're kicking around."

Ava spun around, and shot a poisonous look at the man who had just walked in. "Mind your own fucking business, Des."

Desmond jerked his chin towards Mandy. "She is my business."

"She's a worthless piece of shit," Ava hissed.

"Don't take your frustration out on her." Desmond's arrogant, know-it-all tone made her want to put out one of his bright blue eyes. "You thought that upping the burn would give you more direct control with the crown at a lower dose of the drug. You were wrong. Too bad. Honest mistake. We won't make it again. Grow up, Ava. Move on."

"But the basic idea is sound! Next time, I'll recalibrate the-"

"No." The curt word cut her off. "We reached the point of diminishing returns weeks ago. No more cutting, no more burning."

There was no arguing with Des when he got that tone. He was the one with the money, the contacts. He'd funded her whole show, since Dr. O bit the dust. But bumping up against the limits of her power over him made her bad tempered. She kicked Mandy's buttock viciously. The girl lurched forward with a pathetic grunt. "Don't lecture me," she said, sulkily. "I'm the one who's clubbing with the stinking masses to troll for test subjects! Wasting time I should spend on research, bumping and grinding with Ecstasy whores like her!" She kicked Mandy again, making her whimper. "I need to delegate this tedious shit!"

"I'm trying, babe, but I don't understand why you're so set on wiping them. I enjoy crowning the ones who aren't burned or cut much better. It's that inner resistance that makes it exciting, you know?"

Ava snorted. "It's not about excitement. You've never tried to crown a subject into anything more complex than sucking on your dick. Try making one of them type a string of code, and see how far you get. You can compel a girl to blow you by putting a twenty dollar gun to her head. You don't need a ten million dollar X-Cog crown. I want to market X-Cog to defense contractors. Understand? Are you with me here?"

"Fellatio is actually a pretty complex motor process." Des sounded faintly hurt. "Particularly when you're hung."

Ava rolled her eyes. "Please. Leave the neuroscience to me."

Des waved that away. "I've got good news and bad news."

"I don't want to hear the bad news," she said pettishly.

"Then I'll tell you the good news, first." He nudged Mandy thoughtfully with his toe. "We need a steady supply of high quality, hand-selected lab rats. We also need someone to deal with our disposal issue. Remember Tom Bixby, from the Haven?"

Ava grimaced. Bixby had been one of Dr. O's rich pets. One who'd survived and thrived after Dr. O's Brain Potential Program. Off to Harvard with Dessie. She still remembered his hot eyes, his groping hands. "An arrogant prick, as I recall. That's your brilliant idea?"

"He runs his own private military company. Bixby Enterprises. It's gotten huge. I think X-Cog would be extremely interesting to him. And we would have multiple layers of security, since he's Club O."

Ava's lip curled. "But he's a dickhead."

Des's eyes rolled impatiently. "Don't be a spoiled baby. Offering him a partnership would solve all our problems in one move."

"And create a lot more," she said.

Des's eyes narrowed. "I've set up a demo. You will be good, Ava."

Well, look at him. Throwing his weight around. Trying to whip her into line with his big dick. She crossed her arms over her chest. "Tell me the bad news," she said. "Maybe it'll cheer me up."

Des stared at her, nostrils distended, cheeks reddening. Anger turned him on. A fact she often turned to her advantage. "I was at a Parrish Foundation board meeting today," he said finally. "Parrish is taking over where his bitch of a wife left off. Getting rid of Linda distracted him for a while, but the party's over, everybody out of the pool. He's engaged a panel of financial forensics experts to examine every penny of Parrish Foundation money spent in the past three years. And to vet all future projects. No more cutting it close."

"Oh, God," Ava moaned. "I'm so close to a breakthrough!"

"I know, but what can you do. He's as much of a pit bull as his ball-busting wife, may she burn in hell. The Morality Police don't want anything naughty going down, after Dr. O's big scandal."

"Fucking hypocrites. 'Helix was a victim, too,'" Ava mimicked.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Fade to Midnight by SHANNON MCKENNA Copyright © 2010 by Shannon McKenna. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 91 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The latest McCloud brother action-packed thriller is character driven by Kevin whose memory recall triggers the story line.

    For almost two decades, everyone who knew Kevin McCloud had thought he was dead. Even his three brothers have all but given up hope. However, instead of dying he suffered a traumatic injury from being tortured that included total amnesia.

    Preventing a drowning leads him to emergency brain surgery. As a consequence, his memory has recently started to return. Kevin Larson is the name Kevin McCloud has used since the brutal torturous beating. He begins to piece back what happened to him eighteen years ago and before. He recalls the mind control work of insane scientist Christopher Osterman, but has not figured out his link. He learns the man is dead, but his associates try to draw Kevin back into their evil mind controlling scheme. As he struggles to remember he meets graphic novelist Edie Parrish at her book signing. She has a past with Osterman and McCloud, as she is convinced the former is the supervillain and the latter the superhero prototypes of her graphic novels.

    The latest McCloud brother action-packed thriller is character driven by Kevin whose memory recall triggers the story line. Fast-paced from start to finish with intriguing unexpected twists, Fade to Midnight is a strong McCloud entry that series fans will relish. However, new readers will find references difficult to assimilate so should peruse the previous tales in the saga (see Edge of Midnight, Behind Closed Doors and Standing in the Shadows)

    Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Not a stand alone

    If i hadn't read the others in the series first, i would've been so lost. This book is way too convoluted. Way too long. Not even the sex was good in this one. The end was unfufilling, the mcclouds and kev didn't get a real reunion (it was implied). Suspense was good although i had to skip a lot of unnecessary pages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another miss

    I don't know anymore about Shannon McKenna. I started reading her books and liked them a lot. But the more books I read, the more I started to see reruns. Besides the steamy sex scenes, the rest of the book was a huge disappointment. It's like all the heroins are huge cry babies and the men are all the same macho domineering men. But come on....give the characters their own personalities. Every book is like she's writing about the same person but with different names. I basically skipped through all the pages because it was just so ridiculous. Don't try to hard on the plot next time. I don't think I'm going to waste my time with her books anymore.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012

    Mary5244

    I have read all the books that Shannon McKenna has written. The series with the McClouds are great, but I must admit this is the only one that got lenghtly and slightly boring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    It was pretty good

    This book was pretty good, but I felt that Edie didn't have much of a back bone. Especially towards the end when Ava had her in the x-cog thing. She just let her keep slapping and slapping her and it got annoying after a while that she just let it happen. Her family also pissed me off b-cause of how they acted. I don't know...the whole story was sort of rushed and unfulfilling.
    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who was a fan of the McCloud series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2010

    Great end to this series.

    Finally we get to know what happened to Kev McCloud. I enjoyed this very much; however, I think a lot of the enjoyment comes from knowing the back story and seeing the interaction of the characters I've known for 7 books now. I'm sure the book would stand alone, but I can't imagine enjoying it anywhere near as much--it would just not make sense. Read this book, but go back and start with Standing in the Shadows, Behind Closed Doors, Out of Control, Edge of Midnight, Extreme Danger, and Ultimate Weapon first. These books are filled with strong, sexy, sex-hungry men and the women they love. At times the plots seem to repeat themselves, but I always enjoyed the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

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  • Posted August 11, 2013

    There is something completely addictive to Shannon McKenna's cha

    There is something completely addictive to Shannon McKenna's characters. I just can't wait to find the time to read about the next one. I love these stories about the McCloud brother's and their friends. This one, with it's explosive revelation that Kev is really alive (hinted at previously but finally proved here) is almost like a reunion for the brothers and their friends. It was great seeing them together, as always the love scenes were hot, and the action was more explosive than ever. The scenes are written as vividly as if you were seeing them on the movie screen. Love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    I expected more

    I had read (and loved) all the other books in the McClouds series and was looking forward to reading about Kevin's story finally. This book provides the resolution to the story and fills all the gaps that had being carried over throughout the previous books, especially the one about Sean and Liv. That said, the book started really slow and I had to force myself to keep reading. The first half is too wordy and could have been condensed a lot to improve the dialog. The overall theme of mind manipulation combined with sex abuse and murder is also very disturbing. I found many of the 'crown' scenes too detailed and distasteful. I was surprised because I have always liked Shannon McKenna's writing style. This fell short to my expectations. Finally, there is no way you can read this book as a stand-alone. You really need the background from the previous books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2012

    My favorite among McKenna's books. Superb!

    My favorite among McKenna's books. Superb!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lasting heat

    The sensuous theme of Fade to Midnight was entertaining, but I didn't fall in love with the characters. Part of this, I feel, was due to the general writing style. The plot was complex enough, but the hurry here to get from one plot twist to another was at times distracting. While the hero and heroine were lively and likable, all the same I felt their personalities suffered for the overall haste. But I did enjoy the way the author kept the story heat from start to finish. This part was skillfully done!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2010

    COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I WILL BE SORRY WHEN ITS OVER!!!!!

    THIS IS #4 IN THE MIDNIGHT SERIES AND THE BEST. THEY ALL ARE GREAT BUT THIS ONE REALLY GETS YOU!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2010

    fade to midnight faded into a ending that left you saying huh

    Liked her other books and couldn't wait for this one to come out. It was ok in the beginning but it lack something in the characters. The ending felt like it was rushed and was just not complete. Over all just not one I would read again. It was not worth the money it cost to download for sure

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    Don't waste your money

    This book is lacking in plot and character development. Seems to be very "formula". I skipped most of the chapters as they had no point and contributed nothing to the "story".

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2011

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