07 May, 2013

Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Howard and I had totally broken up. If Picasso had a blue period or Van Gogh a sunflower obsession, Howard has been exploring reconstructed women. Her heroines live under assumed identities, waking up in bodies that aren't theirs, reincarnated after the hero (!) kills them to begin their reinvention. I haven't begrudged her the theme. We broke up over the men. (Death Angel. Enough said.) Howard crossed from Alpha Bond style books to Alpha Hole abuse glorification. We couldn't be together. Enter Shadow Woman.

Let me set the scene. Me. The public library. An hour to kill with a dead e-reader. I decide to hate read Howard one more time, just for the memories. Like that I fell back in love. In Shadow Woman Howard takes the elements she hasn't been able to stop working with and frees them from the cycle of abuse. She still has a heroine with a vague memory she might have been someone else. She still has an Alpha hero who kills as easily as he breathes. The difference between Shadow Woman and her other recent books is so simple, so basic and yet so vital to my reading experience. It's respect. The hero respects the heroine. The author respects the heroine. The heroine is in a situation she chose to be in. She is forced to rely on her own instincts and intelligence to feel her way through a dangerous new reality. The heroine is not reformed or repentant, she is self accepting. This is about her reclamation of her identity as she comes to terms with past events. I kind of loved it.

Shadow Woman not a romance. It is a romantic suspense with the classic Howard elements. A cartoonish disregard for human life, covert groups, government conspiracies, the people who make paranoid people look naive. The hero and heroine don't truly meet until the last pages of the book. Their story is told by his distant concern for her and her struggle to remember him. This is a book about waking up crazy and slowly coming to understand that you are not insane but imprisoned. The heroine's struggle to define herself, to identify the core parts of her personality inside the shell, are the focus of Howard's tale. This is a book that reminds me why I started reading her in the first place. I'm going to pretend the last few years didn't happen and reinvest in Linda Howard. Shadow Woman proves that libraries still have a place in reader discoverability.


  1. A very dear relative gave me a copy of this book and so I waited until I had read it to read this review. Generally not a romance reader, I found the book to exceed expectations. Though not a cat lover, I loved the POV and the characters of the hero (cat) and heroine were well developed as you said. The talk show was, as you say, a major WFT moment, but Weir did demonstrate an excellent ear in the dialogue she put in the host's mouth. On the other hand, I really doubt the host would put anyone on the spot like that. She's just too considerate a person. There was enough well-written suspense in the novel to mess up my schedule, but I agree with your conclusion. As a ride it was diverting enough, but I'm not looking to invest time in the next iteration. Oh, and, money happened to the single title and TV-series mentality and "more is better."

  2. I think you meant to put this on the Theresa Weir review - but yes, wasn't the TV show completely wrong?