Shadows

Best Suspense Thriller Novel 2016

-Rone Awards Winner ~ InD’tale Magazine

Shadows ExcerptReviewsBook Club Questions

Shadows, A Black Raven Novel – Excerpt


5:25 a.m., Monday
131441413923117208152620
The number stream, the one and only communication she’d received on the phone that was dedicated solely to transmission of such a message, jolted the last sleep-induced blur from Chloe’s brain. Her hands shook as she mentally translated numbers to Letters.
C-A-T-A-C-L-Y-S-M-N-O-W-R-U-N.
She gripped the phone tighter, checking her translation. Same result. It was the message she’d been hoping would never come. Maybe she’d made a mistake. Kicking aside the sheet and blanket, she turned on the lamp, opened the top drawer of the nightstand, pushed her revolver to the side, and pulled out a pen and paper. Drawing a deep breath, she started over, writing as she assigned letters to numbers.

Cataclysm. Now. Run.

Adrenaline surged through her veins, but as she stood, hope glimmered – maybe the message itself was ...

5:25 a.m., Monday
131441413923117208152620
The number stream, the one and only communication she’d received on the phone that was dedicated solely to transmission of such a message, jolted the last sleep-induced blur from Chloe’s brain. Her hands shook as she mentally translated numbers to Letters.
C-A-T-A-C-L-Y-S-M-N-O-W-R-U-N.
She gripped the phone tighter, checking her translation. Same result. It was the message she’d been hoping would never come. Maybe she’d made a mistake. Kicking aside the sheet and blanket, she turned on the lamp, opened the top drawer of the nightstand, pushed her revolver to the side, and pulled out a pen and paper. Drawing a deep breath, she started over, writing as she assigned letters to numbers.

Cataclysm. Now. Run.

Adrenaline surged through her veins, but as she stood, hope glimmered – maybe the message itself was a mistake. No. Not possible. A wrong-number text message would have made sense in a simple, uncomplicated life, rather than in her father’s private code. As her father’s daughter, her life was neither simple, nor her own. And despite her father’s propensity for paranoia, the cataclysm part of his secret code galvanized her into action.
‘Normal’ wasn’t part of her father’s vocabulary. He wasn’t normal, but he was her father. While a majority of the world now ridiculed him, Chloe didn’t. Cataclysm wasn’t supposed to happen. The word meant only one thing in her father’s world, and she had instructions to follow. Without question. Well, maybe with questions. A train car full of questions, starting with how her father, who was imprisoned in a federal penitentiary, had managed to send her a text and why this particular message now. Yet she knew if he had a few minutes with a computer–any computer–he could do anything. Other questions bombarded her, but now was not the time to entertain them. Even with doubt, she’d follow the pre-arranged steps of his cataclysm scenario as though her life, and a whole lot more, depended on it.

Cataclysm. Now. Run.

Her father had taught her to act first, worry later. A simple idea, and one with value, although he had the luxury of living in grand schemes and high ideals. He’d left her to contend with the real world, and to say it was a damn inconvenient day to have to run was an understatement.

She shredded the paper where she’d written his message, put the pieces in her mouth, almost gagging on the wad of pulp. With all that was inside of her, she knew that chewing and swallowing paper as a means of destroying the message was ridiculous. Yet she was committed by blood and loyalty to following her father’s instructions, no matter how off-base, so follow them she did. She walked over to retrieve her personal ditch kit—cash, loose diamonds, gold medallions, and weapons—all packed in a backpack that was tucked in a locked trunk in her closet, under spare linens.

The location where cataclysm prompted her to run—a lake house on Firefly Island in Hickory Lake, near Nashville, Tennessee—had more supplies. For now, she just had to get there. Fast. She checked her backpack, put it by the bedroom door, and tried to calm herself by deep breathing. This first step of the cataclysm scenario—getting to the lake house within twenty-four hours and awaiting her father’s next instruction— would be a no brainer if she were alone. But she wasn’t alone.

Dear God, why today?


Shadows, A Black Raven Novel - Reviews


[A] smart techno-thriller with a steamy and surprisingly touching love story between two characters who are both torn between duty and desire. The stakes are high throughout, but the sacrifices that the hero and the heroine have made for what they feel is right makes their relationship that much more meaningful and offers a safe haven in the midst of a tangled, dangerous and well-plotted escapade. – Romantic Times Book Reviews

“WOW! Shadows is a highly polished, gritty, suspense-packed tale that will have readers hanging on the edge of their seats! Brilliantly written, this story with profoundly unique characters will leave readers gasping while refusing to lay the book down. – InD’Tale Magazine

“Terrifyingly possible, Shadows is romantic suspense on steroids. It starts with a bang and never slows down. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for fans of the genre, this ...

[A] smart techno-thriller with a steamy and surprisingly touching love story between two characters who are both torn between duty and desire. The stakes are high throughout, but the sacrifices that the hero and the heroine have made for what they feel is right makes their relationship that much more meaningful and offers a safe haven in the midst of a tangled, dangerous and well-plotted escapade. – Romantic Times Book Reviews

“WOW! Shadows is a highly polished, gritty, suspense-packed tale that will have readers hanging on the edge of their seats! Brilliantly written, this story with profoundly unique characters will leave readers gasping while refusing to lay the book down. – InD’Tale Magazine

“Terrifyingly possible, Shadows is romantic suspense on steroids. It starts with a bang and never slows down. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely for fans of the genre, this book was just amazing.” – Long and Short Reviews, Review Blog

“[F]asten your seat belt because you’re going to have the ride of your life!! . . . It’s fast paced, with a high amount of violence, sex scenes and death. What more can you ask? Highly Recommended!!!” – Romorror Fan Girl, Review Blog

Shadows has “lots of plot twisting, double crossing, passion, rage, violence, oh just about a bit of everything that makes this a very, very good read. . . . I loved that we get to hear from Skye and Sebastian, but what absolutely made this book for me, is we get whodunit too! In all his warped, twisted mind’s glory!” – Archaeolibrarian, I Dig Good Books, Review Blog

“Riveting from the very first paragraph, the reader barely has time to buckle up before the ride begins! And it is an amazing ride….” – Between My Bookendz, Amazon Review

“[M]ake it your business to pick up this book today. . . . Barcelona takes inspiration from true-life headlines and the abrasive talking heads on cable news programs, but she does an excellent job boiling down the big picture while making the chase for the secrets extremely emotional and personal. The plot twists and turns, trust is a theme, graphic violence is prevalent, and sisterly love is a beacon of sanity in a frightful situation. Once the action slows down for a breath, the sizzling attraction between Skye and Sebastian explodes, but even their initial love scene unfolds with a few surprises.” – History Repeats, Amazon Review


Shadows, A Black Raven Novel - Book Club Discussion Questions


  1. Which relationship in Shadows was your favorite, and why – the relationship between Skye Barrows and her younger sister, Spring; the romance that developed between Skye and Sebastian Connelly; or the relationship that developed between Spring and Sebastian?
  2. What do you believe motivated Sebastian? Did his actions stay true to his motivation throughout the story? Who should play him in the movie version?
  3. What do you believe motivated Skye? Did her actions stay true to her motivation throughout the story? Who should play her in the movie version?
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  1. Which relationship in Shadows was your favorite, and why – the relationship between Skye Barrows and her younger sister, Spring; the romance that developed between Skye and Sebastian Connelly; or the relationship that developed between Spring and Sebastian?
  2. What do you believe motivated Sebastian? Did his actions stay true to his motivation throughout the story? Who should play him in the movie version?
  3. What do you believe motivated Skye? Did her actions stay true to her motivation throughout the story? Who should play her in the movie version?
  4. What did you think of Ragno? Do you have ideas regarding her background?
  5. In Shadows, Skye and Spring owned Creative Confections, a coffee shop and bakery. Do you regularly frequent a coffee shop or bakery? Is it anything like Creative Confections?
  6. Sebastian ultimately admired Skye and her determination to take care of her younger sister, but in the beginning he used Skye’s relationship with Spring to his advantage. How did you feel about Sebastian in the beginning of the story? Were his actions justified? Was there a time in the story when you did not like him? If so, what action(s), if anything, redeemed him?
  7. What surprised you about Shadows?
  8. Richard Barrows claims to have developed Shadow Technology, which has the capability of assimilating all cyber data collected by the U.S. Government and turning that data into relevant information about any U.S. citizen’s daily habits. Do you believe such technology exists in real life? Do you believe the U.S. Government has such technology?
  9. When Ragno and Sebastian discuss the U.S. Government’s data collection capabilities (Chapter Seven), Sebastian states: “We know the government collects everything, all the time.” Do you believe this statement is true? Do you believe the U.S. Government is capable of collecting your data (emails, cell phone records, etc.) without your knowledge?
  10. Governmental collection of cyber data, as discussed in Shadows, raises issues under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Do you believe that the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant before collecting and analyzing your cyber information, such as online data, phone records, emails, and cloud account data? Should the Government have the right to collect such data without a warrant?
  11. Would you want to meet any of the characters in Shadows? In what setting?
  12. What did you think of the jellybean moments in Shadows? What is your favorite brand of jellybeans? Flavor? Have you had popcorn flavored jellybeans?