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.
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.