Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shadow Music by Julie Garwood (last read of 07)

Title: Shadow Music
Author: Julie Garwood

Type: Historical Romance
Series: Connected, yes.

Why: Garwood is an auto-buy for me.

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows–skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom–when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.

Comments: First, it worked for me. Maybe not in the steal-your-breath way that Ransom or The Gift or many others from her body of work did, but it worked. Once I fell into the story, I couldn’t put it down. The magic was still there, just muted a bit when compared to the others.

Second, for me, Garwood couldn’t go wrong with the presence of Brodick (my all time favorite Garwood hero) or with the “I’ll take her as mine, under my protection” premise for the romance. I’m pure sucker for the latter and the Scottish Laird-English miss combination is, thanks to Garwood, my favorite backdrop for it.

Despite all of this, I’ll have to echo the comments of others. Garwood’s prose was lacking. Her narrative and POV was all over the board and it made for a disjointed read. Pulling the reader in, then losing the reader, pulling the reader in again, then losing us again. And so on. Overall, there was a void in characterization that hurt the telling of Gabrielle and Colm’s story.

Should she release another historical, I will be first in line. However, visiting Garwood’s website, I see only a cursory mention of Shadow Music and no mention of future historical releases. I’m not encouraged.


  1. Unfortunately that seems to be the consensus among other reviewers - it's okay but not as good as her earlier works. Sure doesn't encourage me to buy it. If I find it at the library I'll probably read it because I love those historicals. I wonder why or how she lost her historical magic?

  2. I'm reading it now.. VERY disappointed there is no Highlander brogue. What. The. Hell? Seriously annoyed with that. She writes THE best brogue. Waaaaaah. So far, as of page 155, the story is okay, though I think she's taken too much time to get the H & H together. Page 155 is a LONG time.

  3. Linda - It didn't feel like she lost her historical magic to me. All of the elements I've loved from her before were there. The problem here was prose or narrative. Just not cohesive, didn't flow, wasn't focused. I felt the magic, LOL. But had to struggle through the words to get there.

    Ah Anne, LOL. You won't find sympathy with me. I don't go for the brogue--aside from aye or lass. *g* Hugs!

  4. LOL - I'm with ya, JB. The brogue doesn't do it for me either, LOL! Poor, poor Anne!

  5. I think I just added this to my TBR list this morning from a review I read in a literary paper.
    Just wanted to let you know I am giving your site some link love today on The Bookworm's Ballroom. I like to spotlight other avid readers once a week.


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