Posted by: Jennifer | December 30, 2007

Shadow Music – Julie Garwood

Garwood, Julie. Shadow Music. (New York: Ballantine Books, 2007). ISBN – 9780345500731.

Main Characters: Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel and Laird Colm MacHugh

Related Works: Brodick Buchanan, who fights with and accompanies Colm MacHugh in Shadow Music, has the story of his relationship with Gillian (as well as Ramsey Sinclair’s with Bridgid KirkConnell) told in Ransom. Brodick also appears in The Secret.

Description from book:

Throughout her acclaimed writing career, Julie Garwood has captivated readers with characters who are compelling, daring and bursting with life. Now one of the most popular novelists of our time proudly returns to her beloved historical romance roots – in a thrilling tale of love, murder, adventure, and mystery set against the haunting landscape of medieval Scotland.

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows – skulduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom – when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle posses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.

A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions – unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire – Shadow Music is a magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.

My Thoughts:

I am SO happy that Julie Garwood returned to writing historical romance. Many of her historical romances are on my top ten favorite romances. While I have certainly enjoyed her contemporary, mystery-type books, I have really, really missed her historical stories. I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow Music. In it, Princess Gabrielle is caught up in some serious medieval intrigue in the court of King John. As a princess from a faraway land that England has taken over, she is a perfect pawn. Plus, there is the possibility of a hidden treasure of incredible value. While on her way to be married to a Scottish laird, she happens upon a rather gruesome scene where several brigands are attempting to bury someone alive. Gabrielle personally stops the men from carrying out their dastardly deed – and helps to save the man’s life. Of course, she leaves a great deal of upheaval in her wake. Soon after, her intended groom is murdered and her reputation is damaged beyond repair. When she is banished, Laird Colm MacHugh takes her in – prodded to make her his wife by his compatriot, Brodick Buchanan.

Of course, Gabrielle causes much more trouble – as many of Garwood’s heroines always do. Yet, she manages to capture the love and loyalty of her new clan. Meanwhile, she and Colm fall in love. King John and the barons continue to plot – some hoping to get control of the fabled St. Biel treasure.

As with so many other of Garwood’s works, what I love best about the book is the characters that she creates. Gabrielle and Colm are both wonderful. However, there are some other great characters. Father Gelroy, the priest without a church, is a riot. Ethan and Tom, the two boys who constantly get into mischief, are instrumental in solving the mystery of the treasure. Of course, Garwood also creates great villains: King John, Baron Coswold, Baron Percy, Laird MacKenna and Isla.

The one thing that disappointed me a bit about the book was that the intrigue somewhat overshadowed the romance between Gabrielle and Colm. In fact, the two didn’t actually meet until page 145 (out of 339). While the background information is important to the storyline, I would have preferred to have seem more of Gabrielle and Colm’s relationship. I will also say that I figured out the trick to the treasure fairly early on. I thought it was quite fitting, but a tad bit obvious. But none of this takes away from my enjoyment of the book. I so hope that Garwood continues to write historical romances. I would be so very sad without them.

Read first on December 27, 2007.

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