I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
I think this is the weakest Julie Garwood romance I have ever read. Usually they are full of humour and passion, but this was a big disappointment. My mum read it first and so I was warned, but I am usually more forgiving and so, thought I might enjoy it more than she did. I did not enjoy it at all, in fact I'm surprised I was able to finish it. Shadow Music is a highland romance and since I'd just finished reading my new copies of Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series I may have been expecting too much. But I know Garwood has written very enjoyable highland romances before, The Secret and Saving Grace for example, and that's what I thought this book would be.
I thought the reason given for the title of the book was silly - the bad guys don't see Colm coming, they just hear the sound of his sword coming out of the shadows, and so shadow music. Ugh!! This description just made me laugh and reminded me of the reason behind the title of Steven Segal's B-grade action movie The Glimmer Man - the bad guys see a glimmer in the darkness and then Segal's character is on them, killing or maiming them and then he's gone again.
There was way too much build-up before we even met Gabrielle or Colm, 35 pages before either appear (Gabrielle's appearance as a young child doesn't count). It's 382 pages before any romance, beyond some kisses, occurs and that only lasts a pretty vague 2 pages, quite unlike all the other Garwood romances I have read. There was absolutely no sexual tension between the characters, although Garwood tried to create it. She has Colm avoiding Gabrielle because he's so tempted by her, but not only doesn't Colm tell Gabrielle this, Garwood doesn't make it clear to the reader either.
I was quite put off by the language the Highlanders used, or didn't use as the case may be. There was no evidence in their speech that they were meant to be Scottish. No ayes, lass, och or any of the other Scottish brogue I have become so familiar with through so many of the great Highland romances I have read. Another surprise and disappointment.
I have to say that the bad guys were two of the least intimidating bad guys I have ever read. Coswold and Percy have what appears to be a pointless screaming match over who has the authority of King John. All the screaming amounted to was a pair of little boys fighting over who had the Tonka truck first - She's mine (she being Gabrielle)!! No, I saw her first. She's mine!! Mine! Mine!. And back and forth pointlessly until Gabrielle is accused of being a whore and then no one wants her. I could see where Garwood was trying to go with some of her plot lines, but it's like she wasn't concentrating or trying very hard and all her plot devices just fell flat. I will think hard before giving up precious book-reading time to another of hers from this series.