A Novel with Thoughts and Ponderings


Author: Julie Garwood ISBN: 0345453867 1/2007 SUSPENSE Publisher: BALLANTINE

Shadow Dance by Julie Garwood

Jordan Buchanan is thrilled that her brother and best friend are tying the knot. The wedding is a lavish affair–for the marriage of Dylan Buchanan and Kate MacKenna is no ordinary occasion. It represents the joining of two family dynasties. The ceremony and reception proceed without a hitch—until a crasher appears claiming to be a MacKenna guest. The disheveled and eccentric professor of medieval history warns that there’s “bad blood” between the couple’s clans, stemming from an ancient feud that originated in Scotland, and involving the Buchanan theft of a coveted MacKenna treasure.

Jordan has always led a cautious life and has used her intelligence and reason to become a successful businesswoman. So she is intrigued but skeptical of the professor’s claims that the feud has been kept alive by the grave injustices the Buchanans have perpetrated over the centuries. But when Noah Clayborne, a close family friend and a man who has never let a good time or a pretty girl pass him by, accuses Jordan of being trapped in her comfort zone, she determines to prove him wrong and sets out on a spontaneous adventure to the small, dusty town of Serenity, Texas, to judge the professor’s research for herself.

Maneuvering through a close-knit community in which everyone knows everyone else’s business, Jordan never anticipates the danger and intrigue that lie in her path, nor the threat that will shadow her back to Boston, where even in familiar surroundings, her life is at risk.


This is my first experience with Julie Garwood's contemporary suspense side of her writing, and I must say I'm a bit disappointed. The emotion, passion and dimensionality that I loved so much in her characters from her past historicals seems to be missing here. I'm almost tempted to believe that the "niceness" of Julie Garwood crosses over into the lives of her characters in SHADOW DANCE: the villains aren't really that villainous, no matter how bad Garwood tries to write them, and the townspeople, who are an eclectic group of characters, are just so "nice" beneath it all, that you immediately forgive them for any bit of mischief they've done or any hidden secrets about them that are finally revealed in the end. They're all just too doggone nice.

I'm also disappointed in both the characters of Noah and Jordan. They're personalities are mostly flat—that is, until the bedroom scene comes in, where they suddenly demonstrate a little flair of passion and display some emotional depth. Noah is supposed to be an über sexy hunk (he's a descendent of Cole Claybourne, by the way, which I thought was a rather neat reference), but I just didn't feel any of that sexiness emanating from the pages. There's just not a lot of romance between Noah and Jordan, and very little emotion.

The plot revolves around Jordan's trip to visit a strange and eccentric professor in Texas who supposedly has the all the historical background of an ages old feud between the Mackennas and the Buchanans and a missing treasure. While there, she's framed for the murder of a man found dead in the trunk of her car. Enter her FBI brother, Nick, and his agent best friend, Noah, to get her out of the fix. What ensues is a lot interaction with the bumbling and inept local law officials, and as the body count starts to rise, the search is on to find out who and why someone is out to get Jordan Buchanan. It's really not all that suspenseful, and definitely not edge-of-your-seat reading. It's sort of a "nice" version of suspense with just an added dash of pretty tame romance.

SHADOW DANCE isn't the best of Julie Garwood that I've read. As a matter-of-fact, it's rather quite average. But it is Julie Garwood, with her unique style of prose, and she does portray life in a small, close-knit town pretty accurately. The fact that the pacing is steady, along with those two things raises its status to a 4 Rose Read for me.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a book that features a "nicer" kind of romantic suspense, with not a whole lot of emotion and romance, then SHADOW DANCE is just what you might be looking for.

Nancy Davis

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