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The Shape of Desire (Shifting Circle Novel) Mass Market Paperback – 29 Jan 2013

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (29 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425256480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425256480
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 10.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,055,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tapner TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Sept. 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A new novel, and the start of a new series, from Sharon Shinn. A writer of both fantasy and science fiction novels who always adds in a touch of romance to her tales.

This is the first 'shifting circle' novel. Whereas her other work has been set on other worlds or in alien realms, this is modern day urban fantasy/paranormal romance. And thus is set in recognisably present day contemporary America.

It runs for three hundred and twenty five pages and is divided into twenty one chapters. The main story of the book, about two characters, is complete and self contained and is resolved by the end. The series element comes in thanks to a bigger backround story. So we shall see where that goes in future books.

Our heroine, who narrates the whole thing in first person present tense, is Maria Devane. A thirty something accountant and office worker. Who has, for the past fifteen years, had a relationship with a man called Dante. But they can only be together for one week every month. Because, as we find out early on, he is a shapeshifter. And for a lot of the time will transform into an animal. He has next to no control over it happening or what he does when in animal form.

The two have gotten by like this for fifteen years - you don't for quite some time find out how they got together in the first place - but now Maria's biological clock is starting to tick. She's wondering if they can go on like this forever. And when a string of attacks by wild animals take place on locals in nearby parkland, she has to wonder just what is really happening when Dante isn't with her...

This does contain a few bits of strong language, and a lot of scenes of an adult nature. Because the two of them get very passionate every chance they get.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 53 reviews
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Not Shinn's Best- By a long shot! 10 April 2012
By R. T. French - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I've loved Sharon Shinn's writing for over a decade. I have to say that, so far, this is my least favorite book by her. Many of the elements were entirely out of character for her usual writing. It is almost as if her publisher called her up and said, "Sharon, we need to edge up your writing to keep up with this whole paranormal romance trend that is so hot. So, let's drop some f-bombs, throw in some erotic language, and maybe a few bestiality jokes. Sha-zam! Publishing gold!"
What Shinn excels at is showing us strong, independent characters (particularly female leads) and making us love them and love watching them fall in love. In "Desire" the female character is completely dependent, with an almost Bella-like obsession and willingness to abandon family and future for her dangerous beau. We don't see them fall in love, but we do see the long term consequences of a paranormal romance. In that aspect, the book was interesting in concept. Where do we go from here? Is there any future in this type of relationship? The redeeming quality of the book is the development of Maria and Dante's self-imposed isolation and complete couple-centeredness into a functional relationship that works together to help and bring in others. However, other reviewers are correct in that it takes too long to move the action of the book along. Shinn's take-it-for-granted otherworldliness is missing altogether, offering instead a jarring and false feeling "real world" setting. Readers who haven't "met" Shinn before and are pulled in by the paranormal romance aspect might enjoy the book (though they, too, might miss seeing how this strange relationship began), but my guess is that readers looking for more of Shinn's usual fare will be disappointed in this change.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A dangerous love 3 April 2012
By Elf2060 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"The Shape of Desire" by Sharon Shinn is a lyrical love story about a shapeshifter named Dante Romano and the woman, Maria Devane, who is inextricably tied to him. Maria continues to work at her job as an accountant but she lives for the ever diminishing times out of the month that her lover can live with her as a human. She has accepted all of his tales about changing into various animals over the years for increasingly longer periods of time and has never questioned him or his strictures and has arranged her entire life to accommodate his unusual circumstances. Complications with her coworkers and frightening murders in her town start to alter her relationship with Dante and force her to examine her goals and ultimate desires. Her unswerving devotion to Dante is tested as she finally interacts with his family and discovers that there are even more secrets that she has been unaware of. Escalating tension forces Maria to take action that may ultimately betray the lover that she is striving to protect and changes the dynamics of her relationship with her coworkers. The question is whether she can regain the equanimity that she has treasured for so many years or is this the price she will pay for having a shapeshifter in her life?

This story was a bit of a departure from Ms. Shinn's intricate series as her characters seemed a bit underdeveloped and the secondary characters were relegated to very brief appearances. The premise is interesting but I found Maria to be too clingy and irritating, filled with angst but trying to hold it in to keep her relationship on an even keel. The interaction between the main characters seemed unhealthy and the pacing of the book was slow until the last third or so. There are beautiful passages with imaginative imagery but the story itself feels two-dimensional and the ending seemed to be disingenuous with little resolution of some of the dangling threads.

© Night Owl Reviews
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
not that great 4 April 2012
By Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
As a huge fan of Shinn's Angel/Samaria books I was really looking forward to this new direction in her writing. Unfortunately, this book was nowhere near that quality. It took forever to get going- Dante shows up and Maria is delirious with love, Dante leaves and Maria is desolate, over and over again. This recycles for a big chunk of the book and for me was pretty repetitive. I also found it difficult to believe that Maria would be able to sustain such extremes of emotion for 15 years. I mean, wouldn't a sane person more or less get used to it? Overall, not a terrible book, but not what I was hoping for, and not worth paying the "new release" price.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Huge Fan Very Disappointed. 19 May 2012
By Leonard B. Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sharon Shinn is my favorite author. If anyone has asked me who my favorite author is for the last fifteen years, I've responded without hesitation, that it was Sharon Shinn. I own every book that she has written or contributed to, and have a dedicated shelf for her work in my personal library. I always look forward to her new offerings in the fall.
It took me a while to bring myself to write this review, but I've got to say it... this book was terribly disappointing. I have a hard time even believing that Sharon wrote it. It was a total departure from her usual style and subject matter. I tried my best to get through it, but it was so slow and redundant that I couldn't even finish it.
Minor point, but it even had gratuitous sex scenes and foul language. I've often bragged that Sharon could create her incredible word pictures without this.
So sorry, Sharon... and I'll give you another chance, but this one just doesn't make the grade.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I Liked it Better After I Finished Than When I Was Reading. 16 July 2012
By J. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I want to start by saying that I liked The Shape of Desire better after I finished reading it than I did while I was reading. There are several reasons so I will get started.

Worldbuilding: This is often a big problem with a new series. There is so much that has to be mentioned and explained that it slows the story down. It has to be done or the story would not make much sense. The Shape of Desire requires a lot of world building. Sharon Shinn does a good job weaving it into the story but sometimes it slows down the action.

Backstory: This is a biggie in a new series. Sometimes you just need a little and it can be dropped in conversation small hints. That was not the case in The Shape of Desire. In order to understand the characters and their relationships you needed to know their past history. The best way to do that was to include scenes from the two main characters past. The use of flash backs did the job but was another thing that slowed the main story line down.

Characters: This is another new take on shifters. Dante is very different from shifter characters in other books. Maria Devane and Dante are the two main characters. We see much more of Maria and as a result she is much better drawn than Dante. Maria is very good at hiding her relationship with Dante. In some ways she was just to good to be true. Dante remained a bit of a mystery to me. His character kept me guessing right until the end. There were several very well drawn side characters that were essential to the story. I am looking forward to how they will be featured in future books.

Plot: The main plot is the number of deaths by wild animal attack. That plot brings on the sub-plots that hinge on relationships in the book. Not all of those sub-plots are about Maria and Dante. I think some of them are setups for future books. I really liked the fact that at the end there was a resolution to Maria and Dante's relationship. They had as much of a HEA as was possible at the time.

Sex: I had to include this one. In most of Sharon Shinn's previous books the couple went into the bedroom and shut the door. You knew what was going on but used your imagination about how it was going on. Not in this book. While it is not as graphic as many books today it was very graphic compared to other Sharon Shinn books. I suspect that this was a requirement by the publisher. I like the other way best, and if you have read any of my previous post you know I just skim those parts of the book. I will say that the sex in The Shape of Desire adds to the story. It is not just put for no reason.

All of that said, when I got through reading everything fell in place and I really liked the book. The Shape of Desire set the stage for future books and I am looking forward to next book in the Shifting Circle series.
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