Tag: Why?

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted February 22, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Holly
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Ransom
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 438
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Throughout her acclaimed writing career, Julie Garwood has captivated readers with characters who are compelling, daring, and bursting with life. Now one of the most popular novelists of our time proudly returns to her beloved historical romance roots–in a thrilling tale of love, murder, adventure, and mystery set against the haunting landscape of medieval Scotland.
For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows–skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England’s most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle’s marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.
For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom–when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.
Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle’s bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle’s body nor heart is safe.
A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions–unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire–Shadow Music is magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.
From the Hardcover edition.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Man, I love me some early Julie Garwood historicals. She lost me with her romantic suspense. I remember being so excited when she announced she was releasing a new historical. I’m still pretty disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wonder what would happen if I read it now? I might need to reread it and see if I still feel the same. 

This review was originally published January 8, 2008

This is less a review about this particular book and more my thoughts on the writing of Julie Garwood. Casee reviewed the book here. You can check that out for a plot summary and her thoughts, for they mostly mirrored mine.

Throughout her career, JG has remained a favorite of mine. Well, let me clarify. Prior to Killjoy she was a favorite of mine. Her historicals still call to me on occasion and I find myself picking them up at random, anxious to sink into an old, comfortable story, similar to how I might slip on my favorite sweats after a long day at work, or pop in a favorite DVD if I’ve had a particularly bad day.

But after Killjoy, not only did I think contemps were not her thing, I decided her writing itself deteriorated. The last novel I read by her was Slow Burn. While I enjoyed the basic premise behind it, I was sadly disappointed in the actual writing. Sentences were choppy, paragraphs seemed to bleed together, or go in odd directions that made no sense to me, dialogue was stilted, characters were half formed or one dimensional. I thought the plot was an awesome one, and had it been better fleshed out it had the potential to become her best written novel yet. But instead it fell far short.

After that, I decided not to read another of her contemps. I told myself, and others, that I’d buy her again if she went back to historicals, but otherwise I was done with her. I removed her from my auto-buy list and comforted myself with her old historicals, the ones that got me hooked on romance to begin with.

Then the announcement came. That yes, Julie Garwood, historical legend, would be returning to her roots. Love her older historicals or hate them, you can’t deny she’s a basic staple in romance. I was happy to hear she’d be returning, but somewhat apprehensive. Because although the moment I’d been waiting for had finally come, I was concerned about her actual writing style. The way she wove a story back when was unconventional perhaps, but still engaging. I didn’t think she’d be able to return to that, not after seeing evidence of her decline in her more recent novels.

I’m sad to say I was correct. She may have done quite a bit of head-hopping in her previous novels, but the focus remained on the two main protagonists. In this novel, however, she chose to write in a more narrative style than from one POV or another. So I was constantly pulled out of the story by her glossing over things, or seeming to sum things up. Very frustrating.

I’m also extremely unclear about how they H/H came to fall in love. There was hardly any interaction between the two, and what there was was disjointed and…once again, glossed over. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to her writing. A chapter would start out from one POV or another, and then half-way through she’d jump into a narrative style, summing things up rather than allowing us as readers to follow the progress.

I suppose it would be like me starting a story, in which I use rich, colorful detail and much humor only to say, once you’re engaged and intrigued, “Blah blah, yada, yada, you get what I mean” and then just leave it at that. Frustrating, no?

There were some good parts. When the POV was written from either the hero or heroine, I was drawn into the story. Unfortunately, those parts were few and far between, and when they did happen, they didn’t last long. The basic premise was also a good one, and classic Garwood. Sadly, the point of the plot was lost somewhere in the muddle of switching from one writing style to another, the jumping between characters and places (i.e., from the Barons in England to the clans in the Highlands to the heroine to the hero to the guards of the heroine to her father back to the barons to the king of England, etc, etc) and the mass amount of inconsistencies presented.

A lot of the reviews I’ve read for this book said the Priests provided a lot of comic relief, but I didn’t really see that. Sure, there were some amusing parts, but I think I assumed they played a bigger part in the overall story (with actual read time, I mean) and that just didn’t seem to be the case.

I’m sure I’ll end up buying her next book (assuming she continues to write historicals), just to see if she somehow improves…hmm, or perhaps that’s not the right word. Regresses into her old writing habits? Goes back to being the Garwood I knew and loved? I’m not sure. I have a feeling I’m going to be sorely disappointed when (if) that time comes, however.

On a related note: Ange, The Romance Groupie, posted about this book on Saturday. I mentioned my disappointment in the overall writing in the comments, and she responded with this:

Actually, I’ve noticed that many of the popular authors appear to be going down in the quality department. I’m wondering if it’s the editors, publishers, etc. that are ruining it. It just seems strange that so many great authors have gone bad in the last year or so. Is it just me? Are you seeing this trend too?

I thought about it some, and yes, I have to agree. Some of my favorite authors have seriously declined in the last few years. Could it be because of the publishers or editors? Or is it just simply something with them personally?

Regardless, I’m disappointed.

Even though I said this was less a review and more my thoughts on JG’s writing as a whole, I’ll still rate the book:

2.5 out of 5

You can buy it here in hardback or in eBook format here. When I bought it from Books on Board, they were offering a $5 cash-back incentive, bringing the total book price down to $9.95. I’m not sure if they’re still offering the promotion, but you could email them to see.

two-half-stars


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If Cassie Edwards Plagiarized, That’s Not Right

Posted January 11, 2008 by Holly in Discussions, News | 8 Comments

I wanted to take a minute to clarify something, from all accounts and the evidence presented, Cassie Edwards plagiarized. Until it’s confirmed, no one can say with absolute certainty that’s what happened, but it seems as if that’s the case. That is wrong. Very, very wrong. I saw the article done about this on AP, where Cassie Edwards said she didn’t know she had to cite her references. I think that’s crap. Absolute and utter crap. Unless she didn’t attend any schooling – which I highly doubt – or doesn’t live in the literary world – which I highly doubt – she had to have heard at least once that to copy/paste without acknowledging your source is wrong, wrong wrong.

You may be wondering why I started this post by saying, “let me clarify something”. That’s because there seems to be some concern, in regards to myself and other people, that we don’t believe plagiarism is a big deal, or that we don’t believe what Cassie Edwards did qualifies as such. That’s horse shit. Or it is on my part, anyway.

I have an issue with the way this news came about, and the source it came from. My very first thought after seeing the original blog post about this was, “There they go again, bashing CE.” My second thought was, “Cripes, can’t they leave her alone.” and my third thought was, “Isn’t their credibility on anything CE related pretty much shot?” Especially after the tone of their original post.

Since then, SB Sarah (I think, forgive me if it was SB Candy) has apologized for the tone of their original post, saying had she thought about it a bit harder, she would have toned it down some. Regardless, I think people are using the issues SB had with Cassie Edwards to take away from the real issue. I’ve been accused of this myself.

I couldn’t disagree more. I think had this come out in a different way, or on a different site, this would be a non-issue. As it stands, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts and comments stating things like, “Oh, shut up. CE was wrong wrong wrong and SB’s were right right right.” I agree. It doesn’t matter how this came out, the fact that it did is huge.

I can say, with complete honesty, I think the way SB’s constantly attacked CE in the past was ridiculous, however. There comes a point when you need to step back from something you find abhorrent and say, “Ok, you all know we think this author sucks, let’s move on” and unfortunately (I say this because everyone seems to be pointing a finger at SB’s now) they didn’t. That sucks. But it shouldn’t take away from the real issue. Something should be done, not only as punishment to Cassie Edwards, but also to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. What? I have no idea. I would love to offer some suggestions, but as I have no experience in publishing, writing or anything like it, I can’t. I hope someone does, however.

Now, having said that, I need to make something else just as clear:

I think this issue has moved past the point of “reporting the news” into something entirely different. Something sad and vile. I can’t help but think about the fact that Cassie Edwards is a 72-year-old woman. That doesn’t in any way excuse her behavior, but I would hate to think that we, Romance lovers that we are, might be so mean spirited that we’d want to see a woman of that age completely broken. And I think that’s where we’re heading. Am I saying we should walk away and forget the entire incident? That we should say, “Oh, well, she’s old, so it’s ok?” Absolutely not. Again, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Under no circumstances should something like this be excused, or overlooked, or go unpunished. But I do think constantly attacking her, calling her names, taking potshots at her, saying she’s a horrible author anyway, so who cares, laughing because finally, finally she’s getting what she deserves (after all, she’s a shitty writer anyway, so why not bash her as much as possible) makes us nothing more than vultures and makes us, as a community, look bad.

The romance genre and it’s readers takes a lot of hits anyway. As I said in my post the other day, it was only a matter of time before someone said, “Well, what do you expect, she writes romance!” And it has happened. And you know, it probably would have happened anyway. But seeing the comments on the posts up at SBTB, DA, KarenS’s blog, and many, many other places makes me almost ashamed to be apart of this community. Why? Because we aren’t proving anyone wrong when they say we’re to be sneered at, or laughed at. Especially when we’re so quick to turn on one of our own (and by this I do not mean to excuse Cassie Edwards, but I do mean to say I feel the tone of the comments should have been much, much different. Instead of saying, “Ha! Finally she’s getting what she deserves for writing such craptastic books” we should have been expressing outrage and sympathy for those who’s works were taken from. Yes, I know there have been comments and posts to that effect, but more often than not, I’ve walked away from posts and comments and the general tone of this and just felt dirty).

And so here I am, writing this post, partly to express my belief that what CE did was wrong, and partially to appeal to all my fellow romance lovers: Please, please remember we are not above others. It is not our place to judge, or throw stones, or be down right mean to someone, regardless of their actions. I think CE’s career is over, no? Chances are she’ll be sued, and ruined and not be able to hold her head up any longer. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it enough that she’s been exposed, that her actions – her own actions, not those of others – have brought her low? Do we need to continue to kick her now that she’s down? Do we need to continue to make ourselves, as a community, seem bloodthirsty and bitchy?

All I would say is this: Plagiarism is wrong. Cassie Edwards needs to accept the consequences of plagiarizing. Those consequences should come from her publisher, the authors of whose work she actually plagiarized, RWA, etc. Even her readers or prospective readers should make a decision on whether or not to continue to buy her books. However, the public crucifixion of CE is completely unnecessary and just plain mean.


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Historical author Jo Goodman

Posted November 28, 2007 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

A few months ago I read a review of If His Kiss Is Wicked. I can’t remember which blog it was, but the reviewer talked about how she couldn’t believe that Jo Gooman isn’t more popular with historical readers.

After reading several of her books, I have to ask the same question. Why has this author remained “undiscovered”? I’ve now read three of her books (and am in the middle of the fourth) and have been blown away by each and every one of them. She has great dialogue, hot and steamy sex, intrigue. You name it. Recently I have been in somewhat of a historical slump. Honestly, there’s only so much I can take of the Duke of Whatsitcalled and Lady Ineedtomarrywellcuzmydaddysaidso. I am so glad that I gave this author a try. She is right up there with Julie Garwood, Julia London (older work), Judith McNaught, etc. Of course that’s only my not-so-humble-opinion. *g*

So tell me…have you read Jo Goodman? Have you even heard of Jo Goodman?


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