Aug 6 2014 1:15pm

First Look: Jackie Ashenden’s Living in Shadow (August 12, 2014)

Living in Shadow by Jackie AshendenJackie Ashenden
Living in Shadow
Samhain / August 12, 2014 / $4.50 digital

Law professor Eleanor May is fine with taking over a class for a colleague on sabbatical. She’s not so fine with the hot student who’s always seated front and center. Once upon a time she was that student…and the scars remain eight years after it ended.

Yet this guy seems different from the others. Despite the alarm bells in her head warning her about history repeating itself, she is drawn toward the forbidden once again—even though this time it could consume her.

Lucien North’s past is darker than the ink on his skin, a reminder of a time when survival was a fight to the death. Seducing his beautiful professor wasn’t supposed to be part of his plan to put it behind him, but there’s something about Eleanor that’s gotten hold of him and won’t let go.

Together they light up the night, but will their powerful desire lead them to love—or drag them both to the brink of disaster?

Living in Shadow by Jackie Ashenden tackles a few themes, the most interesting being the power dynamic of an older woman with a younger alpha male.

Eleanor May has what she considers a fulfilled life; she is teaching law, she has her friends, and she is years out from being under the thumb of an abusive dom husband (who was her college professor, as it turns out.) She is poised, professional, and highly intelligent; it’s just that every week, Lucien North sits in the front of her class and stares her down. He’s challenging her to notice him, to acknowledge his presence and acknowledge the fact that they have a connection. She studiously ignores him until the day Luc gets tired of that and moves things along from non-verbal to smoldering hot. After that, business really starts to pick up.

It’s always nice to get the point of view of the guy, and Luc has an interesting history. He is a tad older than the traditional college student, and at twenty-five he is a man who has lived a lot of life. He has blood on his hands; as a result, he fights with himself about his attraction to Eleanor and what he wants from it and from her. As for Eleanor, the age difference bothers her, not to mention that fact that fraternizing with a student is prohibited. Her past has made her gun-shy about the future. Luc doesn’t care about her past or the rules. He wants Eleanor in his bed and he won’t stop until he gets her there and keeps her there.

Luc is the quintessential alpha male. He is relentless in his pursuit of Eleanor and pushes her boundaries, but he also keeps his promises to cease fire when she seriously throws up the caution sign. He has a dirty mouth and he isn’t afraid to use it; combined with his academic proficiency, Luc is hard to resist. Eleanor is white and Luc is black; the way Ashenden used this dichotomy of the characters was smart and honest. Luc stood out at their college, not only because of his race but for being tall, dark, and hot; meanwhile Eleanor was the cool, beautiful, blonde ice queen. These characteristics didn’t define either of the characters as much as they gave a snapshot into how they were perceived by others. Luc was in awe of her beauty, not simply because of her color but because of her, period. Likewise, race wasn’t an issue for Eleanor but that didn’t stop her from admiring his skin shade along with his rippling muscles and tattoos.

As a natural alpha, Luc needed to earn Eleanor’s trust by letting her teach him how to be a proper Dom. This created a fascinating dynamic that was the root of their relationship. Trust was important to both of them, even when they felt they couldn’t trust themselves. Sometimes Eleanor even regretted it when she would be given the space she requested, but Lucien always stayed true to his word. If Luc had been bullheaded, it would have been awkward to take instruction from Eleanor but his respect for her allowed him to listen and learn.

He also had no problem calling her out when he felt she was full of it, which was quite a lot. She needed to protect herself, and Eleanor knew that in order to keep her wits about her, she couldn’t be in close proximity to Luc. Lucky for us, she eventually changes her mind.

Learn more about or order a copy of Living in Shadow by Jackie Ashenden, available August 12, 2014:

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Nicole Leapheart's alter ego is Miss Boxy Frown, and she posts book reviews and TV recaps at She reads and watches everything from romance to sci-fi, but enjoys it even more if some smut is involved. And tattoos.

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