Joint Review – Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Cover for Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: January 1, 2013
How we got this book: eARC from NetGalley

Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and doesn’t recognise the reflection staring back at her in the mirror. She isn’t suffering from amnesia; she remembers who she is, what she did the day before, her parents, where she grew up – everything. But who she is, is not who she sees. Alarmed, she begins searching her house for something – anything – that will match what she remembers. There is nothing. And yet there is nothing in her life that seems abnormal, except herself. She could be crazy, but her instincts are telling her this isn’t the case. Some women might make an appointment with a psychiatrist, but Lizette isn’t ‘some women.’ Deep inside she knows she isn’t the face in the mirror, and that she has to find out the truth, before it’s too late.

*blurb from Goodreads

MiscJoy: This story has an interesting premise. When Lizette doesn’t recognize her own reflection one morning, it sets off a cascade of events that lead her to go off her normally routine and uneventful life – or at least as it has been for the past few years. Unbeknownst to her, she’s being observed and the people doing the observing have noticed a potential shift in her patterns of behavior. The trick is – who will get to her first, the man who loves her or the people who see her as nothing more than a liability?

The writing style, unfortunately, did not work for me. I’m not a fan of narrative consisting primarily of internal dialogue. As a result, I felt removed from the story and characters which basically meant I was bored. I would have preferred more character interaction and dialogue but there wasn’t much dialogue at all. This made it difficult for me to get a handle on who Lizette and Xavier were as “people.” Instead, they felt more stereotyped than real.

Has: After reading Running Wild I was hoping that Linda Howard would start to get back on track for me because her last few books have been misses – although there were glimmers of her old magic in some of those books. And in Shadow Woman, there was as well with the romance but the convoluted suspense plot which for me became pretty unbelievable especially with the twists. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that the events that led to Lizette’s past and hidden history would be due to that twist along with the long buildup which had too much focus and time with Lizette trying to escape the trap she was in. I felt that the suspense was lost for me. The only thing that kept me reading was the romance between Xavier and Lizette which really felt old skool Linda Howard for me. I just wished there were much more time and scenes between them because I liked how they interacted with each other and definitely they had a real spark of chemistry.

Miscjoy: I agree, the pace was too slow to allow any real sense of tension or suspense. There were several plot holes and areas where things just fell apart. Too much time seemed dedicated to aspects of the story that did nothing to move it forward and instead left it stagnating much of the time. I felt the narrative focused too much on the minutiae of a characters actions, for example telling us that Lizette “turned on her phone. waited for it to boot up, scrolled to the contacts, selected the number, hit the green call button…” Did we really need all that to let us know she was using her cell phone to make a call? Additionally, there was too much focus on suppositions about possible actions a character could choose: If Lizette had recovered, she might do this or that; if Xavier could get to her first, maybe he could do this or that; to cover her ass, maybe she would make this decision or that decision. Each time, going through each of these scenarios in great detail while not moving the plot forward at all. Saturating the narrative in this way took away from any actual action taking place through the entire story. It started to feel like a how-to book. I just kept wondering where the story was in all that. Although, I will say I did learn a thing or two about bear and wasp spray. So, that’s good. But in the end, it meant I did a lot of skimming.

Has:Yes! I totally agree about getting lost into the details and the minutiae especially when Lizette was preparing for her escape, I actually got bored with those scenes and I sped read because it was bogging down the story. And that is one of the main problems about Shadow Woman, there was too much of this instead of actual suspense or even romance and I just felt that the narrative just got lost into unnecessary details.

But even so, I do think that the main plot involving the conspiracy behind Lizette and how she became this Shadow of her old self was an interesting premise, but the reasons behind it just didn’t work for me and it was so inconsistent as well as unbelievable. I won’t go into details because it is a huge part of the plot and is a huge spoiler. But I did enjoy the characterisations of the cast of characters. Linda Howard has a great gift in painting vivid and realistic characters and they were well rounded and fleshed out. I just wished we had more focus on them than on the outlandish plot that got lost into details that didn’t really add anything to the book.

MiscJoy: In the end, I really liked the story premise, but I felt the pacing was too slow and the bogged-down narrative prevented the buildup of any real suspense. While there were aspects to the romance that had potential and certainly Lizette and Xavier seemed like they could have been compelling characters, it took too long for the romance to even make an appearance (not counting the dream sequences which incidentally left me flat). Sadly, I was bored for most of the story.

I give Shadow Woman a D.

Has: Like Joy – I was intrigued with the premise and it was a very good one, but its execution left a lot to be desired. And along with the meandering pace which lost any tension and too much focus on details that didn’t bring the plot or the characters forward, the book pretty much suffered for me. The only saving grace was the romance with Xavier and Lizette which had real tension and chemistry and I loved his desire to protect her which is the main theme of the book. But oh, how I wished this was much more used as a focus than the convoluted plot which frankly didn’t interest me and was way out there. I won’t give up on Linda Howard books because she’s one of my all time favourite authors. I hope her next offering is back to form but I am really disappointed that Shadow Woman didn’t live up to her old magic.

I give Shadow Woman a D.

3 thoughts on “Joint Review – Shadow Woman by Linda Howard”

  1. Sadly this just confirms LH’s fall . . . each year hoping her standalone title will get better . . and each year being disappointed again – it has become a cliche. Her books are how to manuals – how to learn about banking, how to survive a plane crash . . how to listen to a bear’s inner thoughts ????!!. .

    LH used to write *the* best romances – she was never a suspense writer and I am amazed that current authors are continually raising the bar with each successive book to keep being published whilst LH’s bar keeps lowering. I shall stick to my re-reads of the oldies but very, very goodies.

  2. @Willa: That was our general consensus as well. Has mentioned the bear POV book while we were writing this review, as I was unfamiliar with it…now I want to read it just so I can experience the crackiness of it:-p

  3. Heeeeeeeeeee . . . read it and weep, then check the copyright to see that yes, LH DID write this, her editor allowed it to remain, then take a pill and lie down in a dark room 😀

    Happy New Year!

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