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REVIEW: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Dear Ms. Howard:

After enjoying Running Wild, your collaboration with Linda Winstead Jones, I felt perhaps you had gotten your writing mojo back.  While Running Wild wasn’t the Howard writing of pre Open Season, it was still an improvement over the last several hardcovers.  In the year’s previous hardcover release, we were even treated to a bear’s point of view.  Shadow Woman was so plodding, however, I found myself longing for the bear.

Shadow Woman by Linda HowardLizette Henry wakes up one morning and does not recognize the woman she sees in the mirror.  She also realizes she can’t remember two years of her life.  This drives her to re-examine everything.  The change in her routine, however, triggers actions by people who have been watching her and tracking her for the past two years, including a mystery man identified as only Xavier.  Coincidentally, Lizette has dreams about a mystery man whom she designates as Mr. X.  Whenever Lizzy tries to grasp the threads of a memory, she is penalized with intense debilitating headaches but over a short period of time she is able to suppress the pain by singing those away.  Truly, she would hum a song or think a tune and the headache would recede.

Lizzy sets out to find out what happened to her but doing so places her life in danger.  We know that Mr. X is not the danger to Lizzy because we are given scenes from his point of view. Perhaps this would have worked better as a first person, rather than multiple points of view in the third person.

This slow moving suspense strains credulity. There are obvious plot holes (Lizzy discovers a tracker under the keypad, gets rid of her backpack, buys all new clothes, ditches her car; but conveniently keeps her wallet which allows Xavier to track her) and the attempts to keep the reader in the dark only add to the lack of momentum in the story.  There is little dialogue but pages of descriptive text.

The romance portion of the story was half-hearted and the characters were flat. Overall, a disappointing read for suspense and romance readers alike but the romance was my least favorite part of the story. In order to engage the romance reader, we were given dream scenes where Lizzy imagined her lover having sex with her throughout the book.  The dream sequences are to provide the basis for Lizzy and X to engage in road side sex immediately upon meeting again for the first time in years.  But to have Lizzie going from fear for her life that this man on a motorcycle is chasing her to fucking him is ridiculous and no amount of dream sex is ever going to provide sufficient justification for that whiplash emotional turnaround.

The opposing side is incompetent and provides little opposing force.  Felice, the person presenting the biggest danger to Lizzy, keeps returning to the same pool of men who fail to accomplish her tasks the first time around.  The only one who is on the ball is Xavier.  Why Xavier and Lizzy find themselves in this situation in the first place isn’t well justified at the end either.  The reveal raises more questions than it answers.


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Willa
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 08:44:27

    After reading the review I was surprised by the generous C- grade given – when one positive could not be found about the book in the whole review (sad). And for the bear to be longed for as well!

    The review read like a D grade to me.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Jane
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 11:59:22

    @Willa: You are probably right that I should have given it a D. It was a disappointing book.

  3. gwen
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 12:03:58

    A few years ago Linda Howard was my favorite author, now it is JD Robb. I enjoyed Running Wild and you make me pause about Shadow Woman. I will wait for the paperback.

  4. Courtney
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 12:41:26

    For so many years, LH was an auto-buy for me and she along with Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood got me hooked on romance and romantic suspense. I think the last book of hers I read that I LOVED was “Mr. Perfect.” Since then, it’s all been really, really poor. I follow her on Facebook and she’s alluded to some health issues that affected her writing, which also seemed to be cleared up (or at least clearing up). The last few years I’ve borrowed her books from the library and haven’t found one to be that good. Page upon page upon page of prose that go nowhere.

    I have to say that I’m surprised her sales are significant enough to warrant hardcovers. Everyone I know has had the same reaction the last few years to her books.

  5. Willa
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 12:59:41


    I have to say that I’m surprised her sales are significant enough to warrant hardcovers. Everyone I know has had the same reaction the last few years to her books.

    Totally agree. I also wonder that her editor doesn’t do a bit more . . er, editing? !

  6. Guest for this comment only
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 15:51:56

    I miss the old Linda Howard. Mr. Perfect is my favorite of hers. However, I can understand how illness and health issues can change your voice. I was forced into menopause by cancer treatment and it has changed my reading habits. I’m amazed at the impact hormones have on so many aspects of my life. Even on HRT, things are not the same as before.

  7. Lauren
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 09:24:44

    I absolutely hated the last book that I read of hers. A plane crash, injured, hungry, hurt and scared, and yet SO OVERCOME by lust that you are willing to get naked in below freezing temperatures to do a guy that you just met. Uh-huh.

    Who are these editors that let these things go onto shelves?

  8. Susan Clark
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 18:48:53

    I have to give LH credit for not being afraid to write different story lines and some strange characters.

  9. TammyM
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 14:46:16

    Well I may be the only one with this comment but here goes: I FREAKING LOVED LOVED LOVED Shadow Woman. I think the story was extremely well written and I have read evey one of Linda’s books except Running Wild. I appreciate the way we were given an inside look at Lizzy and I never suspected she did what she did (for all of you who did not read the book). The only thing I wanted to happen was for her to have a good, hard and long cry while in Xavier’s arms after she remembered the incident. For me 4 1/2 stars. Oh what the heck, 5 stars.

  10. vickie cooper
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 01:37:15

    Dear Ms. Howard, I did not enjoy this book. In the beginning it was very interesting but in the following chapters this book was not interesting at all not until maybe five or six chapters left. I cannot believe the price that i paid for this book. I have always enjoyed your books except this one. In the near future i will not pay $13. 99 or above for any of your books sorry about that because this book was not interesting enough to pay this kind of money for it.

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