From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…
Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart...
A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.
As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness...
THIS EDITION ONLY—INCLUDES EXCLUSIVE BONUS MATERIAL FROM GABRIEL'S INFERNO
About the Author
Sylvain Reynard is the New York Times bestselling author of the Florentine series, which includes The Raven and the novella The Prince, as well as the Gabriel trilogy, including Gabriel’s Inferno, Gabriel’s Rapture, and Gabriel’s Redemption.
Read an Excerpt
William wasn’t running.
For some time, he’d been waiting in the shadows near one of the lesser gates of the walled city of York, his horse tethered nearby. His beloved Alicia hadn’t appeared. The bells for Compline had long since rung and so, impatient and irritated, he left their secret meeting place and led his horse in the direction of her father’s house.
Alicia’s father was a good man. He was a successful trader who’d clawed his way to the top of the merchant class. But he was Anglo-Saxon. His ancestry, coupled with his trade, made Alicia an unsuitable match for William in the eyes of his aristocratic, Norman parents.
But William wanted her. He’d courted her in secret and they’d made plans to meet and flee north. There they would marry and, with the few jewels and household items William had stolen from his family, they would make their life together.
He was young, strong, and extremely intelligent. Alicia was beautiful, kind, and industrious. Together, they would live a happy life.
Despite her promise, Alicia had not come.
William cursed in Anglo-Norman, his mother tongue, assuming Alicia’s father had discovered their plan to elope and confined her to the house.
He loved her. He would have her even if he had to fight her father sword to sword. Even now, his blood sang in his veins and his body tensed with desire for her. They’d agreed to wait until they were married before lying together, but that hadn’t kept them from kissing and enjoying little indulgences whenever they could. He was looking forward to uncovering her for the first time and learning the secrets of her body.
With such pleasant, sensual thoughts in mind, William tripped.
“God’s bones!” he swore, dropping his horse’s lead and pitching forward.
A low moan resounded from the ground.
When he’d recovered his balance, William bent over what looked like a bundle of clothing. A shaft of moonlight fell from behind the clouds, illuminating his stumbling block.
What he’d thought was a bundle of clothing was, in fact, a woman. She was wearing a dark, hooded cloak, and her skirts were pushedup to her waist. The lower half of her body was naked; blood was spattered on her legs and in between, where her maidenhood had rested.
He couldn’t leave her like that, even to find help. He pulled her heavy blue skirt down, covering her.
The woman shuddered and twitched.
He tugged at his horse and was about to mount him when the woman began whispering. She moved her head from side to side, her long, wavy locks of hair falling free of her hood, sweeping across her shoulders like a torn curtain.
Something about the sight of her hair stopped him.
Still holding the reins, he bent forward.
The woman had been beaten badly. Both eyes were blackened and one of them was swollen shut. Her face was bloody, her lip torn.
She lifted a shaking hand as she blinked at him from her single usable eye.
William felt the earth drop from beneath his feet.
He threw the reins aside and sank to his knees. “Alicia? Alicia, what evil is this?”
She closed her eye and coughed.
He lifted her in his arms, cradling her against his chest.
Alicia cried out from the movement. She shifted in his arms, too weak to struggle. A single, trembling hand sought the fabric of her skirts, tugging at them as if to cover herself.
The sight pierced him.
“Alicia.” His voice broke. “Who did this?”
“Strangers.” Her breathing was labored. “I called for help. No one came.”
Her fingers pulled at his shirt.
“Will,” she managed, burrowing against him. For a moment, she seemed to hold her breath, then her body slowly grew limp.
William clutched her to his heart, as his beloved’s life seeped out of her body.
He lifted his eyes to the dark sky above and cried out.
July 1, 2013
The Prince of Florence stood outside a house in Umbria, conflicted.
He’d already paid his respects to the Princess of the region, managing to avoid her romantic overtures. He’d enjoyed her body on previous occasions—she was beautiful, intelligent, and vibrantly sexual, as were most of his kind. On this night, however, he’d found her charms wanting. Having politely declined her invitation to fornicate, he hunted on Umbrian lands with her begrudging permission.
Locating Professor Gabriel Emerson and his family was easy. He and his wife, Julianne, owned the house that stood majestically on a hill, the lights from its windows cheering the darkness. The Prince’s conflict was not in finding the Emersons or in escaping the embrace of the Princess. No, his conflict derived from a promise.
Raven Wood was human, beautiful in an unconventional way, and very brave. She was also protective of others, including strangers. In a tender moment, she’d exacted a promise from him that he would spare the lives of the Emersons. He’d made the promise in good faith, not just because he wished her to confide in him about her mysterious past, but because he cared for her and longed to make her happy.
Since she’d quit him, making it clear she could not accept the fact that he was incapable of love, he’d been tempted to go back on his promise and punish the professor for having the audacity to claim rightful ownership of stolen works of art. That he did so unknowingly was no excuse. The Prince desired revenge, and now that the only human in the world who could persuade him to indulge in mercy had rejected him, he had no reason to forgo it.
That was how he’d come to stand outside the house, listening as Katherine Picton, an older friend of the family, bade her hosts good night and Clare, the infant daughter of the Emersons, was put to bed in her parents’ room.
He waited impatiently while the Emersons pursued their pleasure in a hot tub that was placed on the balcony off their bedroom.
The Prince wrinkled his nose as their marital union dragged on and on. It seemed every time he encountered the couple, they were engaging in intercourse. He tapped his leather-clad foot on the garden floor, willing them to couple faster.
It was a starless night, dark and still. The sky was a velvet arc above him while the summer breeze whispered in his ear. As he heard Julianne cry out in pleasure, he remembered Raven doing the same, while he gently loved her.
His jaw clenched.
Love—a polite euphemism for the joining of bodies for physical pleasure.
And yet he could not be scornful of the term when applied to her.
It had been almost a month since he’d known the pleasure of a woman—almost a month since he’d had Raven in his bed. He could still feel the warmth of her skin beneath his hands, the soft curves of her figure as he caressed her, the scent of her blood as it filled his nostrils.
But it was the memory of her green eyes that kept him still as Julianne kissed her husband and returned to their room. Raven had large eyes that brimmed with feeling.
Don’t you ever tire of death?
Her voice interrupted his thoughts.
The truth was that he did tire of death. Even now he felt conflicted. But the Prince tamped down his misgivings and scaled the wall of the villa, eager to surprise the professor while he was alone.
And surprise him he did.
“We meet again.” The Prince’s conversational tone belied his menacing figure.
Startled, Gabriel stood in the hot tub, his wet, naked body shining in the dim light that shone from the bedroom.
“What do you want?” he barked, fingers curving into fists.
“I want you to cover yourself, to start with.” The Prince tossed a nearby towel toward the man, regarding him with distaste.
The professor wrapped the towel around his waist and stepped out of the water. He placed his body between the Prince and the door to the bedroom, which he quickly closed.
“I said, what do you want?” The professor’s posture was decidedly defensive.
“I want what’s mine to remain mine. I’d like you to stop taking things from me and parading them in public as if they were your own.”
The professor regarded the Prince with incredulity. “I have nothing of yours. Leave. Now.”
The Prince’s gaze flicked over the professor’s shoulder, watching through the windows as Julianne cradled her daughter in her arms.
“You have many riches. You’d do best to attend them and not grasp after what is not yours.”
The professor scowled. “Again, I’m asking you to leave.”
The supernatural being shook his head, regarding the man with cold gray eyes. “I’m told you have difficulty listening to instructions. I perceive this to be true.”
“I told you to leave. You don’t seem to be listening, either,” the professor rejoined.
“You stole my illustrations.”
At the first sound of the professor’s protest, the Prince lifted his hand, silencing him. “I know you didn’t steal them personally. But the illustrations belonged to me before they fell into the hands of the Swiss family who sold them to you. I have taken them back and they shall remain with me. Forever.”
“You lie. The family owned the illustrations for almost a century.”
“Yes.” The Prince gave Gabriel a challenging look. “Before that, they were mine.”
The professor blinked in confusion.
When he’d regained his composure, his sapphire eyes narrowed. “You were the one who came to our hotel room in Florence. I couldn’t see you but I could feel your presence.” Gabriel lowered his voice. “What are you?”
“What I am is inconsequential. Let’s simply say I’m not human. I am also not accustomed to arguing with human beings or offering second chances.”
Once again the Prince’s gaze was drawn to the figures of the mother and child inside the house. “Do you love your wife?”
Gabriel’s spine stiffened. “Yes.”
“Enough to die for her?”
“Without hesitation.” Gabriel took a courageous step forward.
A long look passed between the Prince and the professor. The Prince was the first to break the silence.
“I have more respect for a man who is willing to live for his family than one who is willing to die for them. Protect your wife and child. Abandon any attempt to recover the illustrations and persuade the Italians to do the same.”
“I paid a fair price for them. Your story sounds like a comic book.”
The Prince’s eyes flashed and he snarled.
The professor went back on one foot, his face a mask of terror.
The vampyre resisted the urge to attack, to exercise his power and dominance. He gazed at Gabriel, noting his tenseness, the smell of adrenaline rushing through his body, his quickened heart rate, and wondered why he hadn’t fled.
Gabriel pressed his back against the bedroom door, signaling to the vampyre that he would have to go through Gabriel and the door in order to attack his family. He was willing to give his life to protect the wife and child who remained blissfully unaware just inside.
The Prince thought of another human being who was a protector; a woman who’d almost given her life to intervene in the beating death of a homeless man.
He didn’t like being reminded.
“Your wife is ill,” he announced abruptly, adjusting his shirtsleeves.
Gabriel’s features shifted. “What?”
“You’re an intelligent man, or so they say. By now I’m sure you realize I have certain—abilities. One of them is sensing human illness. I can’t identify the problem, but there is something wrong with your wife, something causing her blood to lack iron.
“When I first met her at the Uffizi two years ago, I scented the illness. Whatever it is, it still threatens her.”
The professor appeared noticeably shaken by the revelation and turned his head to gaze at Julianne through the window.
“You acquired illustrations that were stolen,” the Prince continued. “Since I’m the original owner, I’ve taken them back. I should have destroyed you, but instead, I’ve gifted you with vital information about your wife’s health. I think you’ll agree I’ve been more than generous.”
Gabriel turned his attention back to the Prince. It was clear he was struggling with what to believe, but his desire to protect his family won out.
“I’ll drop the investigation and speak to Interpol personally.” Gabriel spoke through clenched teeth. “I shouldn’t be held accountable for the actions of others. If the Italians choose to pursue you, that’s their misfortune.”
“If your involvement ceases, we have no quarrel.” The Prince gave him a sustained glare, then approached the edge of the balcony and turned.
Gabriel was still standing in a defensive posture outside the bedroom. He’d clapped a hand over his mouth, as if restraining himself from raising the alarm.
The Prince fixed him with a stony gaze.
“Be sure to live long enough to ensure your daughter has a good life. Things happen to children when they lose their father.”
He vaulted over the railing and flew to the ground, before disappearing into the darkness.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unbelievable author. This story has everything- dark desires, action, betrayal, death, and angst. Just when you think you know what will happen next, there's a twist or turn that elevates my anticipation of 'what next?' even more. Love the main characters, William and his 'cassita', and was even a little bit miffed to read the fate of a few side characters as even they were written with glimpses of personalities that draw you in. I have read all the books written by this author and continue to love the writing style. Once again, I impatiently await the next book.
I really liked The Raven, but for me, The Shadow is even better. The plot picks up exactly where it left off. If you enjoyed the art and history intermingled with vampire fantasy and carnal desire featured in The Raven, you're in for more of the same depth. Features that I didn't notice as much from the first book but loved in this one mostly include the action and twists. There is a war brewing. The reader has to try to deduce who is bad or good. Also, several little important clues have been dropped in both books about the background and connections of Williams. Raven's past and relationships play big parts too. A female lead that keeps her wits while being in love and doesn't give in to the physical perfection the vamp blood could give her is enduring. Including actual historical figures as characters is brilliant for this storyline. Watching the mystery of William slowly unravel is alluring. The Shadow speaks to the reader's interests in intelligence and romance. It's a great mix. I’m very much looking forward to the next novel in the series.
Beautifully written . Strongly suggest reading the Gabriel Series first followed by The Prince before reading The Florentine Series.
It is difficult to explain how much I loved this second book in the series about Raven and The Prince, without giving anything away. What I can say is Sylvain Reynard is an extremely talented writer and story teller! If you loved Gabriel Trilogy, you must read The Prince, and this series, The Florentine Trilogy and the intriguing story of Raven and The Prince. You don't have to read Gabriel Trilogy to enjoy this Trilogy. I could not wait to get to the final pages, except...once I did, I truly regretted not being able to read more! I am looking forward to the next books by this talented author. Highly Recommend!
This review was written by Marie for a guest review post on Ever After Book Reviews blog: 5 Stars I loved this book. So. Freaking. Much. It’s an epic romance, where both Raven and William prove just how much they love one another by risking their lives to keep the other safe. Happy. Alive. It’s a beautiful romance. It’s full of betrayal, revenge, forgiveness and love. There’s action, there’s turmoil, and there’s the ultimate decision of giving up everything you’ve ever known to keep everything you can’t live without. It’s so amazing; I’ve had a hard time putting in to words just how much. Sylvain Reynard, I just might be one of your biggest fans. Your stories enthrall me and render me utterly speechless. The Shadow left me desperate to find out what happens next with Raven and William. It left me wondering what happened to Raven’s sister and her boyfriend. It has me curious as to what William will do with the Curia and his constituents. It has left me feeling hopeful that romance still exists on such a deep and meaningful level like that of William and his Raven. So… I will have to sit (not so) patiently for the final installment of this phenomenal series, awaiting my answers and the happily ever after I so desperately need for these two star-crossed lovers. ***I read and reviewed a paperback copy provided to the blog in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own***
(4.5 stars) The first 1/2 of the book was different than what I expected. Raven is confronted by her past and William is shocked and confused by her reaction. That one encounter will set in motion events that will change both of their lives. Again, the ending leaves you wanting The Roman IMMEDIATELY!! There isn't a book that SR could write that I wouldn't read. I've enjoyed this series more that I imagined I would and I cannot wait to see how it all ends.
Oh my goodness. That was a wild ride! Where The Raven was more focused on the development of the romance between Raven and William, the Prince of Florence, The Shadow is far more action-packed and filled with intrigue as those behind the prince’s assassination attempt in The Prince and the traitor(s) in The Raven step up their efforts to bring an end to William’s reign. We see William’s multitasking skills put to the test as his relationship with Raven resumes, he attempts to shield her from the other vampires to keep her safe, protect the humans of Florence from ferals, protect his people from the hunters, protect his people from the Curia, find the traitor(s), and keep his throne. The action and adventure, the intrigue, the romance, and the steamy sex scenes all combine to make The Shadow a fascinating read. But what I really, really enjoyed about it was getting to know William better. Reynard has created a vampire who conforms with many of the popularly accepted vampire legends, but not only possesses traits that make the vampires of The Florentine series his own, but also make William an anomaly among them. But I can’t tell you what they are. We learned of at least one of the anomalies in The Raven, but more are revealed in The Shadow and some are spoilers – so mums the word. However, we also learn of the circumstances that lead to William becoming a vampire. Yet the most surprising revelation to me was the revelation of who William’s maker was and while I had my suspicions, it was still a shock to have them confirmed. I actually sat back in my seat and expelled a “Whoa!” breath. As there is one more book to come in the series, I don’t believe it is too spoilery to reveal that the attempt to unseat William from the throne prove to be unsuccessful. Besides, it was witnessing the actual scenes of the coup itself that proved to be fascinating as I could not find it in myself to doubt William’s eventual success. No, seeing the lengths to which William would go to protect Raven were both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Even still, it was observing William address the physical embodiment of cowardice and deception that kept me glued to the final chapters of the book, on edge, prepared to bite the head off anyone who dared to interrupt me as I devoured it. Fortunately for those around me at the time, they either sensed the danger or were otherwise occupied, so no physical harm was felled upon anyone outside of the book. I cannot say the same for the traitors, several of whom I was glad to see their demise. The absolute worst part of reaching the end of The Shadow is that I now must wait for Reynard to gift us with the conclusion of The Florentine series. And thus the countdown begins… I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
Very well written and very exciting book. Loved every moment
Such a great story! So passionate and sensual as well as action packed! William and Raven are such interesting characters. There is a great amount of passion between these two and they have a remarkable connection. It's breathtaking, romantic, and exciting. There were some ups and downs and bits of drama and emotion. I found it all very captivating. It's a wonderfully written story, almost lyrical in a way as the words flow, drawing you in. I loved learning Williams background and about his change, that was a bit of detail I was dying to know. Loved the tie in right at the end when even more was revealed about his past. I found that super exciting! Raven is strong throughout and I admire her selflessness. I think she's a really great character. I greatly enjoyed more of an intense peek into the vampyre world as secrets are revealed and bad guys are exposed. Lots of answers came to light from lingering questions from the first book, The Raven. There was lots of action and fighting, it was awesome. I loved that element, it was very descriptive and intense. I don't want to say more without spoiling it but that last 25% had me turning the page like a mad woman. I couldn't read fast enough. Loved the answers I got and cannot wait for the final installment. I thought there was a good flow throughout, the first half dragged a bit in spots for me with the back and forth of William and Ravens relationship. I enjoyed it, I just found myself ready for more, I needed some action and drama. When it happened, I was not disappointed. Totally worth the wait! A beautiful story filled with passion and love! Complimentary copy received for honest review.
I have read all of this author's books and am in love his storytelling. I get so wrapped up in the stories. I'm so invested with the characters and what is going to happen next. I'm normally not a paranormal romance reader, but William and Raven have captured me. Can't wait for the next book.
I love this author and the way she writes, can't wait for the next book.
If you are looking for a well written romance novel that isn't overly lascivious...this is for you. So excited to see where William and Ravens story ends up!
2.5 Stars Reviewed by Annie and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog THE SHADOW is the second book in the Florentine series but really, it should actually be considered a continuation series of Gabriel Emerson. While I have no problem knowing that this is a spin off series, my real issue with this series so far is the fact that the author is still grounding this entire series on past characters. I enjoyed Gabriel and his wife but their story has come to a beautiful end. This Florentine series marks a change in several areas of Reynard’s writing. This is supposed to be a paranormal romance series. So I don’t understand why the professor needs to be so heavily involved in everything when his series was a Contemporary Romance. Perhaps if you haven’t read the previous series it would be easier to dismiss the fact that now you have some paranormal creatures interacting with a human throughout the book but I think it defeats the purpose because now fans who enjoyed the Gabriel books may find it more difficult to get on board with what’s happening in here. Reynard’s writing remains largely the same and while I enjoy it in some areas, his attention to detail is also a double-edged sword. I think I mentioned this in one of Reynard’s earlier books I reviewed. Details are nice but too much can really bog down the pacing of the story. I felt that was the case here. It took me a very long time to get through this book. Something about the writing this time seemed to drone on, causing me to put it down more often than I was flipping the pages. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s only because of the writing style or perhaps these characters don’t hold my interest as much as Reynard’s past characters has. It’s unfortunate because there’s no doubt that the author is eloquent. It just doesn’t hold my attention for long.
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 3/4 In this second installment of The Florentine series we get to see William and Raven’s relationship grow. When we left William and Raven at the end of The Raven it was unclear as to what the future would hold. In The Shadow we learn more about The Prince’s enemies. We also finally find out who the traitor is. And we get to see William become very vulnerable when it comes to the women he loves. There is a lot that happens in this book, both good and bad. It was great to be back in the Prince’s world. I really enjoy the world the Mr. Reynard has created for us in Florence. I can’t wait to see what is next for William and Raven. Favorite line: “On the contrary, I was rewarded with both. Now I must save her.” Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
4.25 stars --THE SHADOW is the second full length installment in Sylvain Reynard’s contemporary, adult THE FLORENTINE dark paranormal, romance series focusing on ancient vampyre Prince William York of Florence, and Uffizi Gallery art restorer Raven Wood. Their continuing story finds the Prince and his people targeted by the human, and Vatican run Curia whose job it is to destroy the living dead. On the hunt for a betrayer within his Florentine Underground, the Prince finds himself having to chose between the woman who calls to his heart, or the vampyres he has promise to protect. There is a character crossover with the series as the Prince is also on the trail of Professor Gabriel Emerson and his wife Julianne from Reynard’s GABRIEL‘S INFERNO contemporary romance series. Emerson was in possession of some stolen art-art that once belonged to the Prince. You can find the background information in the prequel novella-The Prince. THE SHADOW should not be read as a stand alone. Told from several third person perspectives, THE SHADOW follows the Prince as he tries to stabilize the building animosity and political instability of his vampyre ruling council-The Consilium-and the growing number of dissidents calling for the Prince’s abdication and his head. There is a betrayer in the midst, and the focus of many an investigation is on the growing number of bodies, drained of their blood, within the boundaries of the Prince’s Florentine principality. While the Prince battles his own, Raven is targeted by the man she has grown to call ‘father’- an outside influence that tears at Raven’s heart and her allegiance to a sister who denies the past. With the Prince’s attention divided, Raven becomes a pawn in a battle she cannot win. The story line ends on a cliffhanger-be forewarned. THE SHADOW is a dark and seductive vampyre story wrapped in a blanket of old world charm that blends the Renaissance artistry and gothic nuances with modern day technology. The secretive underground of the Florentine principality is dangerous, seductive, and hauntingly dramatic. The characters are impassioned, provocative and deadly; the romance is passionate, sensual and heartbreaking. Sylvain Reynard traverses time and era; artist and artistry; the supernatural and the human world. THE SHADOW and THE FLORENTINE SERIES is a passionate exploration of the dark and forbidden world of the vampyre.