Shadow Music Book Review
I have to admit, this is the first Julie Garwood novel I have ever read. So my opinion might differ from Julie Garwood fans worldwide. Apparently, she has quite a following in historical romance reading circles. I found that many habitual Garwood readers were not as appreciative of her latest work, Shadow Music
. But as an objective reader who has never before read her previous blockbuster novels, I think I can offer a more receptive review.
Gabrielle’s mother was the Princess of St. Biel in Scotland, a small town which is rumored to have stored away an emperor’s amount of gold and hidden it from England. Her mother moved to England to marry a Duke and then gave birth to Gabrielle. By then, the rumors of the gold had become myth. Her mother had died and now Gabrielle was considered the Princess of St. Biel, even though she lived in England. As a lady of the court she had great value to the king. She had a large dowry and was exceptionally beautiful. For this, she was promised to a clan laird (chief) in Scotland for marriage to help keep peace between the highlanders and England’s rule.
While she was on her way and well in to Scotland, along with the four men from St. Biel sworn to protect her for life until it was proven that she was safe with her husband, she accidently bore witness to what was about to be a very gruesome execution. The execution was being performed by one clan (the MacKennas) to lure out another rival clan (the MacHughs) in such a way that the rival clan would be ambushed and destroyed. However, Princess Gabrielle had no idea about the intent and nor did she care. She aimed her bow and arrow and killed the executioner at the precise time. As three clans emerged into battle, Gabrielle and her men ran in, grabbed the poor condemned man and rode away with him to the abbey where she was expected for her wedding.
This is where the plot thickens. Gabrielle does not want to be involved with the problems between the clans, nor does she want it known what she just did. So she asks the men at the abbey to help heal the broken man and promise to keep silent about who brought him there. At once they recognize him as Liam MacHugh, the brother of Laird Colm MacHugh who was the most feared clan leader in the area. Before the wedding can occur, Gabrielle’s soon to be husband is murdered, her two strongest suitors just happen to be there demanding to be next in line to marry her, and through vicious plot specifically created just to ruin her by a jealous girl, Gabrielle is banished from England and stripped of her title. As she is chased away from the abbey she ends up being saved by Colm MacHugh, the very man whose brother she had helped to save.
Enter the love story. Although Colm is known as a barbarian and is the most feared laird in the region, he ends up being the good guy, of course. He is gruff, ill-tempered and vicious, but only to his enemies. His clansman love him, they look up to him and respect him. He immediately demands that Gabrielle marry him, not because he wants her dowry (which was taken from her anyways after being banished) but as a favor to another clan who had direct ties to Gabrielle’s family. Gabrielle is turned off by the way Colm orders her to marry him as if she had no opinion and Colm is infuriated by her will. Yet as they get to know each other while she hides in his clan they become more and more attracted to each other. Gabrielle learns that he is not just some fearsome ogre. He cares about his people, he exhibits kindness and he is a total highlander beefcake, of course. Colm find Gabrielle beautiful, alluring, and generous, and when he finally learns that it was Gabrielle who saved his brother, he falls head over heels in love with her.
In the end Gabrielle is vindicated by the King, the people who plotted against her are brought to justice by Colm’s hand and peace is restored in the land. And as far as the great gold treasure of St. Biel, well….you will just have to read the book.
This novel is motion picture material! I really enjoyed this book and I looked forward to reading it each night. Sure, there were some obvious clichés and typecasts, but I found it to be a pleasure to read. I was honestly jealous of Gabrielle. It made me want to find travel to Scotland and serve myself some beefcake pie, if I could only find some slightly modernized warrior highlander who happened to fit Colm’s description.
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