Cassandra Westbrook is a wealthy, young widow and a connoisseur of art and artifacts. When a particular piece speaks to her, she knows she must have it, and that's the case with a set of Native American ledger drawings she finds at auction. She ends up in a bidding war with an intriguing young man who stirs her interest in more ways than one, but she believes it to be nothing more than a chance meeting. However, their paths cross again when her gifted nephew's teacher recommends a creative mentor for him and it's none other than the man Cassandra met at the auction. The sexual tension between them runs hot, but can she overcome her own hang-ups over being ten years his senior to have a real relationship with him?
Thomas Warrior used his artistic talents to raise himself up from the mean streets of the inner city to become one of the most famous comic book artists in the world, but he's largely a recluse who tends to lose himself in the fantasy worlds he creates. Cassandra intrigues him from the moment they meet, and it's really his interest in her that spurs him to accept the task of mentoring her young nephew. Thomas and Cassandra experience a passionate love affair, but when her nephew suddenly disappears along with the ledger drawings, suspicion for the crimes falls on Thomas. It seems that these and several other recent incidences bear an eerie similarity to events in a graphic novel he's been writing that hasn't yet been published. Is Thomas losing his mind or is there someone else out there tricking them all into thinking that his comics are taking on a life of their own?
Night Falls Like Silk is a follow-up story to Kathleen Eagle's The Night Remembers. In that book readers were introduced to Angela and Jesse, along with a street-wise kid named Tommy T, who was twelve going on twenty. Jesse was a vigilante superhero of a sort whose exploits fueled Tommy's imagination, giving him lots of fodder for the comic books he created. In Night Falls Like Silk, Tommy is all grown up and now going by the name Thomas Warrior. He's managed to bankroll his extraordinary artistic and storytelling talents into a lucrative career as a comics and graphic novel author and artist. Angela asks Thomas to mentor one of her young students, a budding artist who shows great promise and who reminds her of Thomas when he was younger. Thomas starts getting to know both Aaron and his beautiful aunt, Cassandra, very well, but then Aaron suddenly disappears, seemingly abducted, and all the evidence points back to Thomas as the culprit.
Thomas is a mixed race hero, who physically looks more like his African American father, but is more emotionally in touch with his mother's Native American roots. After Angela and Jesse married, they adopted Thomas, but fifteen years later, there's some bad blood between Thomas and Jesse. Jesse, who returned to his job as a cop, was more or less forced to arrest Thomas's biological older brother, Stony, who has a long, sordid history with drugs, and Thomas hasn't been able to forgive Jesse for what he feels was a betrayal of family. The story opens with Thomas bidding against a beautiful woman at an auction for a set of Native American ledger drawings. The woman wins and a bit of heat passes between them before they part ways. Back at home, Thomas, who's something of a reclusive hermit, isn't entirely thrilled with Angela trying to twist his arm to get him to be a mentor to her student, but when he sees that the boy's aunt is none other than the woman who won the drawings, he can't resist. While Thomas mentors Aaron, he and Cassandra begin a passionate affair. Meanwhile, his latest creation, a changeling superhero based in Native American mythology who has both male and female alter-egos, Victor and Victory, seems to have come to life. Many of his stories, even ones that haven't yet been published, appear to be playing out in a series of burglaries of Native American artifacts. Then Aaron disappears and the ledger drawings are stolen as well, leading the police to believe that the kidnapper and the burglar are one and the same, and Thomas is their prime suspect.
I loved Thomas in The Night Remembers and was very much looking forward to seeing him grow up and get his own story. Although he says he doesn't like kids and tends to avoid people in general, I liked that underneath his aloof facade, he has an affinity for mentoring. He tries to balance his encouragement of Aaron's imagination, with concern for the types of disturbing content the boy is searching for online and putting into his drawings. Even though he has issues with Jesse, which was a little hard to read about given how close they'd been in the prequel, Thomas still has a strong sense of family. He cares about his adoptive mother and younger siblings, as well as Stony, who seems to have disappeared after being released from a recent stint in prison. His affair with Cassandra is something of a whirlwind, but he's good to her and clearly very taken with her from the moment they meet. He's also very understanding and forgiving - perhaps a little too much so, given that he's holding a grudge against his adopted father - when she seems uncertain as to whether he might have been the culprit who stole the drawings from her. However, I'll allow that it could be because he almost seems to have some doubts of his own, possibly wondering if he might have a split personality like his characters. It's kind of hard to tell, though, because this part of the story is steeped in a lot of mysticism.
Cassandra is a wealthy widow who owns an art gallery. She married a rich husband who was twice her age when she was extremely young, and essentially became his trophy wife. While it wasn't an ideal marriage, it wasn't a bad one either. Now she uses her inheritance to care for her younger, scatterbrained sister and her son, while pursuing her passion for art. She has a certain affinity for Native American art, which brings her into Thomas's sphere. She's equally as drawn to him when they first meet, so when she discovers that he's the son of her friend, Angela, and he's the one Angela has set up to mentor her nephew, she's intrigued. However, the ten year age difference between them leaves Cassandra a little hesitant to get involved with a considerably younger man. Thomas isn't inclined take no for an answer, though, and she finds him extremely hard to resist. She hasn't been interested in playing the merry widow, so this is her first affair since her husband died, and it's an all-consuming one that leaves her breathless. But when evidence starts stacking up against Thomas, she begins to have some doubts about her lover. While I understood why she might feel uncertain given how overwhelming the evidence appears to be, I did find myself wishing she would have had a little more faith in him. It isn't too overblown, though, and she does come around quickly, so overall, I was inclined to mostly like her.
Night Falls Like Silk bears some similarities to The Night Remembers in that the superhero theme plays a role. While there aren't any actual superheroes as characters, Thomas does have an almost mystical connection to his characters, and his creation has inspired the villain to take up the mantle of anti-hero Victor, stealing back Native American artifacts, while Aaron becomes both a means to an end for him as well as something of a side-kick companion in his lonely world. Also both stories have similarly subdued romances for our main couples. Thomas and Cassandra don't share a lot in the way of actual romantic interludes. They hit the sheets soon after Thomas agrees to mentor Aaron, and while they do have several love scenes, those moments are relatively brief and so steeped in euphemism, they don't add a great deal to the emotional connection, which is the main reason for me dropping the star. However, one of the story's strengths is its family ties. I enjoyed reading about the dynamics between Thomas, Angela, and Jesse and seeing things come full-circle for them. The mystery/suspense portion of the plot was a little low-key and a bit predictable, but I did enjoy it anyway, because it also plays into the family aspect of the story. In fact, I got a little teary-eyed by the end. Kathleen Eagle has a rather unique writing style that may not be for everyone. It has a more literary quality that requires the reader to do some reading between the lines, which isn't always my favorite style. But somehow, I always end up appreciating her stories by the end for their unusual themes and textures even if they aren't quite perfect and that's exactly what happened with Night Falls Like Silk.
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