TBR Day: Julie Garwood’s “Shadow Dance”

This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.

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Book: Shadow Dance (romantic suspense)

Author: Julie Garwood

Copyright Date: 2007

Why did I buy this book? Julie Garwood was one of the first authors I read when I started reading romance. While I’m not sold on her contemporaries (see next paragraph), that doesn’t stop me from getting her books…

Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long? For me, the charm that her writing has in her historicals hasn’t translate well to contemporaries.  I’m not entirely sure why – maybe the mixture of stubbornness and innocence her heroines display in her historicals come across as irksome ignorance in a modern setting, while the alpha hero’s arrogance and take-charge attitude become hmmm… just plain bull-headed insensitivity.  So I don’t have as much invested in the romance, and it isn’t enough to distract me from the (weaker) suspense subplot.

What is it about? “Shadow Dance” is one of the books in Ms Garwood’s loosely-linked series of contemporary romantic suspense novels.  The heroine, Jordan Buchanan, is the sister of the hero in a previous book, and I’m pretty sure the hero in this one, Noah Clayborne, is also a recurring character. Having said that, you needn’t have read the previous books in this series – I’ve read all of the rest, but can’t really recall them.

The basic plot: Jordan’s just sold her IT company (she’s a technological wizard) and is at loose ends.  Noah winds her up (okay, slight oversimplication) so she heads off to the middle of nowhere to collect old papers relating to her family history, and manages to get herself entangled with various dead bodies.  So it’s Noah to the rescue…

So what did I think of it? I love the “friends to lovers” storyline and here, Jordan and Noah have known each other pretty much forever (Noah being Jordan’s brother’s friend and FBI partner).  I liked the interaction the two of them had, especially in the beginning, and I thought that the book slowed down a bit once Jordan headed off on her own (for about 60-plus pages). There are some typical Garwood scenes that had me smiling, for instance, having all the ladies swooning over Noah and Jordan befriending everyone in town.

However, I have to say the characterisation didn’t feel “authentic” – I mean, Jordan’s meant to be an IT genius, yet that only went as far as her treating her laptop like an extension to her body.  Similarly, with Noah’s FBI background, again it didn’t feel that FBI-like. You know how the phrase “wallpaper historical” gets tossed around?  Well, this felt like a wallpaper contemporary to me – Jordan could easily have been some sort of err… successful florist or caterer or whatever, and Noah a police detective or something.  She just needed to be a successful businessperson, and he just needed to be somebody who was in law enforcement.  I’m probably doing a bad job of explaining, but if I compare this to another recent read of mine, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “I Shall Not Want”, her heroine’s Clare religious background was part of her. Ms Spencer-Fleming couldn’t have had Clare become an IT expert without completely changing the whole book, whereas this is not necessarily the case for “Shadow Dance”.

There was also some jarring head-hopping – I’m not a fussy reader by any means, so if I notice something like this, it probably means it’s glaringly obvious.  And I’m also not convinced that the links to Ms Garwood’s previous books were needed.  They didn’t really add anything to the story, even for the longtime reader.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Oh, and the suspense plotline? Eh. It’s not one of those that could have been figured out by the reader (i.e. not enough clues), but then again, I rarely figure out the whodunit, so I’m not 100% sure she didn’t do any foreshadowing. Not the strongest, IMO.

My conclusion? “Shadow Dance” entertained me for a couple of hours or so, but isn’t a keeper, and it hasn’t changed my mind about Ms Garwood’s contemporaries.  I wavered between a B and C for this, because I did enjoy the Jordan/Noah interaction, but at the end of the day, if I hadn’t read this, I really wouldn’t mind one way or the other.  C+ for me, I think.

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6 thoughts on “TBR Day: Julie Garwood’s “Shadow Dance”

  1. Hmmm, I can’t remember if I read this one or not. I agree with you about Julie Garwood. I think there’s just something in her style that is so so. Have to say though, I haven’t read her historicals… LOL… but her contemporaries… meh.

  2. I had read Julie Garwood when I was in my early teens. Even I cannot remember the story lines… Got to read them once more.

    Reading your post I felt that you do like the “swooning” & “befriending” part of Noah & Jordan resp. If you really do then you have to read Nora Roberts’ Irish trilogy. It had me grinning like a fool & sitting starry eyed all week long!!

    Happy reading!
    -R

  3. One of my very favorite books of all time is The Secret. I’ve read all of Julie Garwood’s historicals and not ONE of her contemporaries. I think I didn’t want to spoil my love of the others. I’ve bought a couple of them, but they still sit on the TBR, waiting.

    For my TBR day post, I read Laurell K. Hamilton.

  4. Nath – Oh, you have to try her historicals. I recommend hmmm… “Saving Grace” or “The Secret”?

    Raji – Thanks for the rec. I’ll have to check to see if I’ve read it already – I grew up reading a lot of NR 🙂 My favourite NR series is her Chesapeake Bay series.

    Lisa – Love “The Secret” (hence my rec to Nath!). I’ve a soft spot for all her Scottish historicals, actually.

  5. Ok, I bought this and love, love the “friends to lovers” theme. But I was never a fan of her historicals with the exception of “Saving Grace.” It’s a fluke that I enjoyed that book as it was recommened to me in my early romance reading days.

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