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Book CoverWilla’s review of Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
Romantic Suspense published by Ballantine Books 1 Jan 13

Linda Howard has been writing for thirty years now. Her books in the 80s introduced us to alpha heroes, strong heroines, and believable suspense plotlines that you could follow, without them overshadowing the romance. Oh, and they were hot – turn-on-the-fan hot, get-an-iced-drink hot, ravish-a-man-hot – with her writing strength being the layered relationship between her heroes and heroines. I was a huge fan and have her oldies and goodies backlist. Some in triplicate! In recent years, however, the romance aspect of her books has seen a sharp decline to the slot tab A into tab B variety, with a few F bombs thrown in and the ‘suspense’ aspect being front and centre, which wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the plots weren’t so ridiculous, actually made sense, and didn’t have more holes than Swiss cheese. However, after a hiatus from Ms. Howard, I saw this book and I could not resist.

This story has a fabulous premise – Lizette wakes up one morning, looks in the mirror and the face staring back at her is not hers. She finds scars that show her features have been changed and she realises that three years of her life are missing from her memory.

Wow. This had me diving in and turning the pages. Sadly, those pages then got bogged down, very bogged down with repetitive and mind-numbing detail. No, I do not want to wade through page after page of mundane minutiae with Lizette shopping for trainers, shopping for a cell phone – after pages of internal discussion as to what kind to get, food shopping, visits to the cash machine, how, why and what position to park her car in. It’s all telling and no showing. By 40% through the book, I’mlosing the will to live. And Lizette seems to be too – she knows she’s being followed by a car and she knows about tracking devices (cue another long internal monologue) and yet to counter this she just covers her number plate and the car with mud. Yep, that will fix it! And then her transport of choice to make her final escape?  (Spoiler – highlight to read) A bicycle! Hahahahahaaaaaa!

And a curious thing – there is little to no conversation throughout the book between anyone. It’s all internal monologue.

As for the romance side – there isn’t any. Seriously. These two characters are given little to no page time together, and so for me they aren’t a couple on the page and in the book – so how am I able to believe and root for them? We know that Lizette and X had been involved in the past, but nothing more. We get two scenes where Lizette dreams about X and her having sex – the tab A into slot B variety – and that’s it until they finally meet up when 90% of the book has passed. We know nothing about X except he is some sort of Super Spy and we find out nothing more about him. They clap eyes on each other, have sex, confess their love. I must have missed that bit because I didn’t see it and he reveals the big ending.

At which point I laughed. Whilst my eyes rolled round faster than a slot machine in Vegas. It’s totally implausible/silly/bizarre!

If you would like to read Linda Howard at her best, I would recommend White Lies, Diamond Bay, Dream Man, Heart of Fire – in fact, any of her older works. That is where her talent really shone.

I am off to find out what Lizette was given for her brain swipe … perhaps it will erase the memories of this book for me.

Guest ReviewGrade: F

See LynneC’s review here.


Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.

Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.

Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.

Read an excerpt.