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on 11 January 2008
Gabrielle grows up in the loving embrace of her family and 4 guards, though her mother is sick and bound to her bed she still manages to tell Gabrielle all about her inheritance. She is after al a princess, it may be a small country but St.Biel is a content place to live and its history is rich. For when the crusades started it was St.Biel that needed to be traveled through to get to the Holy Lands, and with the wise King at the time made a pact with the crusaders. Crossing the country will cost gold but it will be send to the pope as a gift of devotion. But as the crusades died a rumor toke root, not all gold was given to the pope and a treassure was buried...

How Gabrielle was familiar with all these stories of treasures, the battle between St. Biel and England, the marriage between her mother, the princes and her father, the Baron. Though her mother died Gabrielle's love for St.Biel shined bright within her heart and her four guards from St.Biel where an ever reminder. When her father tells her she is to be married to Laird Monroe she prepares herself for the life as the wife of a Laird, little did she know that the journey to Scotland is the beginning of something unexpected.....

I think anyone who has ever read Julie Garwood's earlier historical novels will recognize my initial outburst of utter joy and excitement which I felt upon discovery that she has returned to her roots. Not only a historical but also a highlander to boot, for me it is a much treasured theme and time period and nostalgia of my youth rode me in waves as I received my copy of Shadow music.

I took my time with it, wanting to savor every page, every character and every storyline. How did I get lost in the feelings of confusion? Because from the first page this story had a different vibe, which is not to say that that is a bad thing of course and was set on giving it all my attention and time. I enjoyed getting to know Gabrielle, her guards and the history of her mother's country only I got a bit restless at a certain point, when would the hero and heroine meet, when would the love story commence?? For me it felt like Julie Garwood took way too much time to set up this story taking away time and pages from the main couple creating an almost stale and unconvincing romance.

The background story of the treasure was interesting, Gabrielle's four guards: Christien, Lucien, Stephen and Faust were a joy to read and fabulous secondary characters. The greedy Barons with their own plans are a convincing lot and the woman in the shades one to watch out for. Colm MacHugh as the hero came across as this big gruff bear of a highlander with pride to match his build and a thundering voice to lure you in to Scotland. He is an unadulterated highlander that I just crave to read about and especially the interaction with his brother and his neighboring Laird Buchannan made me smile.

The separate threads of this novel sometimes gave me that hint of Garwood skill I enjoyed in all her other historicals,it was holding a promise but never truly giving it to me. When Gabrielle was exiled and Colm tried to do the chivalrous thing was for me the only true moment I could feel the talent of Julie Garwood as she once was. Colm and Gabrielle lack enough depth together, lack creating a delighted friction of two strong characters that sizzle into a passionate love which grabs me and makes me a part of the story. For me it felt that the background story and the secondary characters demanded so much time from them as the main characters, that there wasn't enough left. And when I read a Julie Garwood historical I want a romance that can rival with all the legendary lovers of the past, endearing, passionate, bold and within their own way have a gripping punch to it.

Maybe it is unfair to Julie Garwood that I compare Shadow Music to her other historical novels and I did try as best as I could to judge this book solely on its own. But when I closed the book I just thought: `Where did the awesome talent of Garwood go for the historical genre?' The plot holds very little surprises, each character does play its part in the grant scheme of things that makes me interested enough to keep reading but all in all it is that Julie Garwood didn't change for the better in my opinion, Shadow Music is at its best mediocre and at its worst a disappointment for those who've read other novels by her hand like: Ransom, The Wedding, The Secret and so on.

In the end, as I look back on reading this novel, I would say what I missed the most was the romance, the plot and the secondary characters held potential and they were meant to make the romance story of Colm and Gabrielle shine and this is something I just didn't get nor feel.

Sometimes it just isn't meant to happen and Julie Garwood just couldn't create the sparkle of an endearing historical that nurtures the tale of a heart rendering love.

reviewed by Leontine
Courtesy of Realms on our Bookshelves
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on 20 January 2008
I have loved Julie Garwood's previous historical romances as they are full of humour, have excellent story lines, gorgeous heroes and heroines that are actually likeable. I was very excited when I saw that she had returned to writing historical romances after her more recent contemporary novels. Unfortunately, I was hugely disappointed. The basic plot was fine but the hero and heroine don't actually meet until about 100 pages into the book and hardly spend any time together during the story. The romance felt rushed and underdeveloped and I just didn't get involved in the story as I normally do with her stories. Perhaps if this book was written by anyone else, I would be more generous with my rating but I had expected more from this author. I would recommend reading The Bride, Honor's Splendour or Lyon's Lady instead.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2008
In this sequel of sorts to Garwood's Ransom, Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, a daughter of an English Baron, is sent by King John to marry an older highland Laird to keep peace between the borders (??!! more on this later). Two of John's scheming Barons with their nefarious (and ridiculous) schemes get involved and Gabrielle's intended is murdered, she is disgraced as a wanton woman and disinherited and banned from England (this from one woman accusing her of entering a wounded man's bedroom??). She meets up with Laird Brodick Buchanan who is her cousin by marriage, as Brodick is married to Gillian a distant cousin of Gabrielle's father. Accompanying Brodick is the fearsome Laird MacHugh who takes her into protection after her banishment. There is also a big mystery about the search for some missing gold that is all too predictable, I figured where that was at the first mention of.... well I won't be a spoiler but trust me you'll spot that one a mile away.

Sound exciting? No, it's not, it's actually quite awful and I'm having a hard time believing Garwood wrote this. Although her older historicals are not high fiction, the healthy dose of humor she throws in along with the romance usually makes for an entertaining read. Unfortunately, along with an embarrassingly bad plot Garwood forgot to throw in the humor that might have saved a story that's predictable from the first page to the last. Even worse, there is little description of the sights, sounds, clothes, etc. to give the reader a good sense of the time period. I don't think I heard mention of any Scott wearing a kilt until well towards the end of the book, Gabrielle's clothing was only noted by the color of the dress she was wearing, etc. I won't even get started on the way Brodick was ruined -- without the banter between he, Gillian, Ramsey and Ian what was an awesome hero in Ransom is reduced to nothing but mush. We don't even get a glimpse of Gillian, only occasional mentions of her being home and pregnant. And worst of all, there is absolutely no chemistry between our two main protagonists, an absolute death knell for any romance book.

And finally, although I don't expect an historical romance to be historically accurate, I appreciate it when an author makes some effort to have knowledge of the period they're writing in. I wish I'd taken notes, because I'm not able to remember all the boners in this book to recount them here. Examples, and since I'm not a history major anyone may correct me if I'm wrong:

* Gabrielle's native country St Biel (somewhere in Europe where the crusaders passed through), is invaded and occupied by King John !!??? John Lackland who couldn't even hold on to Normandy?
* What is it with the women running around with their long hair flowing loose? No woman in medieval times, especially a noblewoman would be seen in public without a proper head covering.
* Gabrielle's original marriage was to settle the border disputes between England and Scotland. Hellooooo, if I recall correctly John was too busy trying to subdue the Welsh to be bothered with Scotland. And what help does a marriage to a highland Laird have to do with any border wars? The borders are in the lowlands - you'd think a marriage to someone with closer ties to the border would make more political sense.

All in all, this is pretty close to one of the worst books I've ever read - not quite but almost. Boring, predictable and downright silly. Garwood would have done much better by making her sequel to Ransom writing about the Buchanans, Ramsey and Sinclairs and putting those people together into her story. Better yet, put their grown children together into a tightly woven story with that sadly missing dose of humor and she might have had something here. As it is, this is a bad way to spend $18 US on a hardback and a serious waste of a tree. If you are dead set on reading it, get it from the library (as I did) or wait for the mass market paperback.

Last complaint - what the heck is with the book cover? The man and woman in the bottom corner are in evening dress and the building with the onion dome looks like something out of the Far East, and certainly not a castle that one would find in Scotland. It's all just stupid, stupid, stupid and doesn't even deserve one star.
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on 15 February 2008
I have read all of Julie Garwood books, enjoying her historical books the most and was very excited to see when another historical book was to be published. Unfortunatly the book was very disappointing. It started ok but over the pages the book dragged,the story didnt flow and it was very difficult to finish.i got very bored by the slow pace and lack of humour which i have always found in JG's books. It wasnt the same kind of writing that i have come to love from JG and infact felt like it was written by someone entirely different.It was such a shame because this should have been such a great book.
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on 24 February 2008
The average rating of Shadow Music is currently 2.5, which in my opinion is an unfair rating of the book and so i find myself having to write a review .
As i said above, this isn't Julie Garwoods best novel, her best historical book by far is Ransom, but i still really enjoyed Shadow Music. Once i started reading it i couldn't put it down!
I think the only issue with the book is length. I honestly think if the book was longer and went into the relationship between Colm and Gabrielle in more depth in the latter half of the book readers would have responded better to it than they have.
Oh and i definately agree with whoever commented about the front cover of the book, it stumped me a little as well why the image seems to be more of a regency book than a Scottish historical, obviously whoever designed the front cover didn't even read the synopsis of the book.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2008
I won't give a synopsis as a very full one has been given by the other two reviewers and any more and there won't be any point in you reading the book.

I think that this is the first historical novel I've read by Julie Garwood, although I can't be sure of that. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to discover on receiving the book that it was historical, as from the title, I'd expected a similiar book to Shadow Dance.

The book gets it's title from the noise that Colm's warsword makes through the air when he wields it into battle.

It's a nice enough read for a fantasy historical (fantasy because it does not have any historical basis apart from the fact that it's set in medieval Scotland). Although I'm not that well up on the convoluted medieval history of Scotland and its kings, I was a bit surprised that in the book England's King John seemed to have so much jurisdiction in Scotland and King David of Scotland none that is mentioned in the book. Personally, I wouldn't have thought that the very touchy Scot's and their king would have taken so kindly to a troop of English baron's and their armed men traipsing around causing mayhem on Scotish soil.

However, as I say it's a nice enough read.
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on 2 August 2009
not one of julie garwoods best books, i have read all of her historical romance and this has to be her worst.
the plot is not great and very predictable, found it hard to finish it
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on 21 May 2009
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, when I picked up couldn't put down until finished even meant 3.00am in the morning
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on 18 March 2015
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