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Shadow Music: A Novel (Highlands' Lairds Book 3) by [Garwood, Julie]
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Shadow Music: A Novel (Highlands' Lairds Book 3) Kindle Edition

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Length: 449 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Julie Garwood is the author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Shadow Dance, Slow Burn, Murder List, Killjoy, Mercy, Heartbreaker, Ransom, and Come the Spring. There are more than thirty-two million copies of her books in print.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Wellingshire, England

Princess Gabrielle was barely six years old when she was summoned to her mother’s deathbed. Escorting her was her faithful guard, two soldiers on either side, their gait slow so she could keep up with them as they solemnly made their way down the long corridor. The only sound was their boots clicking against the cold stone floor.

Gabrielle had been called to her mother’s deathbed so many times she’d lost count.

As she walked, she kept her head bowed, staring intently at the shiny rock she’d found. Mother was going to love it. It was black with a tiny white streak zigzagging all around it. One side was as smooth as her mother’s hand when she stroked the side of Gabrielle’s face. The rock’s other side was as rough as her papa’s whiskers.

Every day at sunset Gabrielle brought her mother a different treasure. Two days ago she’d captured a butterfly. It had such pretty wings, gold with purple splotches. Mother declared it was the most beautiful butterfly she’d ever seen. She praised Gabrielle for being so gentle with one of God’s creatures as she walked to the window and let it fly away.

Yesterday Gabrielle had gathered flowers from the hill outside the castle walls. The scent of heather and honey had surrounded her, and she thought the lovely aroma even more pleasing than her mother’s special oils and perfumes. Gabrielle had tied a pretty ribbon around the stems and tried to fashion a nice bow, but she didn’t know how and she’d made a mess of it. The ribbon had come undone before she handed the bouquet to her mother.

Rocks were Mother’s favorite treasures. She kept a basketful that Gabrielle had collected for her on a table next to her bed, and she would love this rock most of all.

Gabrielle wasn’t worried about today’s visit. Her mother had promised that she wouldn’t go away to heaven any time soon, and she never broke her promises.

The sun cast shadows along the stone walls and floor. If Gabrielle hadn’t been on an errand with her rock, she would have liked to chase the shadows and try to capture one. The long corridor was one of her favorite places to play. She loved to hop on one foot from one stone to another and see how far she could get before falling. She hadn’t made it to the second arched window yet, and there were five more windows to go.

Sometimes she closed her eyes, stretched her arms out wide, and spun and spun until she lost her balance and tumbled to the floor, so dizzy the walls seemed to fly about her head.

Most of all, she loved to run down the corridor, especially when her father was home. He was such a big, grand man, taller than any of the pillars in the church. Her papa would call to her and wait until she reached him. Then he scooped her up into his arms and lifted her high above his head. If they were in the courtyard, she raised her hands to the sky, certain she could almost touch a cloud. Papa always pretended to lose his grip so that she would think he was about to drop her. She knew he never would, but she squealed with delight over the possibility. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held tight as he strode toward her mother’s rooms. When he was in an especially happy mood he would sing. Papa had a terrible singing voice, and sometimes Gabrielle giggled and covered her ears it was so awful, but she never really laughed. She didn’t want to hurt his tender feelings.

Papa wasn’t at home today. He had left Wellingshire to visit his uncle Morgan in northern England, and he wouldn’t be home for several days. Gabrielle wasn’t concerned. Mother wouldn’t die without him by her side.

Stephen, the leader of the guards, opened the door to her mother’s chamber and coaxed Gabrielle to enter by giving her a gentle little nudge between her shoulder blades. “Go on, Princess,” he urged.

She turned around with a disgruntled frown. “Papa says you’re to call my mama Princess Genevieve, and you’re supposed to call me Lady Gabrielle.”

“Here in England, you are Lady Gabrielle,” He tapped the crest emblazoned on his tunic, “But in St. Biel, you are our princess. Now go, your mother is waiting.”

Seeing Gabrielle, her mother called out. Her voice was weak, and she looked terribly pale. For as long as Gabrielle could remember, her mother had stayed in bed. Her legs had forgotten how to walk, she’d explained to Gabrielle, but she was hopeful, praying that they would one day remember. If that miracle were to happen, she promised Gabrielle that she would stand barefoot in the clear stream to gather stones with her daughter.

And she would dance with Papa, too.

The chamber was crowded with people. They made a narrow path for her. The priest, Father Gartner, was chanting his prayer in a low whisper near the alcove, and the royal physician, who always frowned and liked to make her mother bleed with his black, slimy bugs, was also in attendance. Gabrielle was thankful he hadn’t put any bugs on her mother’s arms today.

The maids, the stewards, and the housekeeper hovered beside the bed. Mother put down her tapestry and needle, shooed the servants away, and motioned to Gabrielle.

“Come and sit with me,” she ordered.

Gabrielle ran across the room, climbed up onto the platform, and thrust the rock at her mother.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” she whispered as she took the rock and carefully examined it. “This is the best one yet,” she added with a nod.

“Mother, you say that every time I bring you a rock. It’s always the best one.”

Her mother patted a spot next to her. Gabrielle scooted closer and said, “You can’t die today. Remember? You promised.”

“I remember.”

“Papa will be awful angry, too, so you better not.”

“Lean closer, Gabrielle,” her mother said. “I have need to whisper.”

The sparkle in her eyes told Gabrielle she was playing her game again.

“A secret? Are you going to tell me a secret?”

The crowd moved forward. All were eager to hear what she would say.

Gabrielle looked around the room. “Mother, why are all these people here? Why?”

Her mother kissed her cheek. “They think that I know where a great treasure is hidden, and they hope that I will tell you where it is.”

Gabrielle giggled. She liked this game. “Are you going to tell me?”

“Not today,” she answered.

“Not today,” Gabrielle repeated so that the curious onlookers would hear.

Her mother struggled to sit up. The housekeeper rushed forward to place pillows behind her back. A moment later the physician announced that her color was improving.

“I am feeling much better,” she said. “Leave us now,” she ordered, her voice growing stronger with each word. “I would like a moment alone with my daughter.”

The physician looked as though he wanted to protest, but he kept silent as he ushered the group from the chamber. He motioned for two maids to stay behind. The women waited by the door to do their mistress’s bidding.

“Are you feeling so much better you can tell me a story today?” Gabrielle asked.

“I am,” she replied. “Which story would you like to hear?”

“The princess story,” she eagerly answered.

Her mother wasn’t surprised. Gabrielle always asked for the same story.

“There once was a princess who lived in a faraway land called St. Biel,” her mother began. “Her home was a magnificent white castle high on the top of a mountain. Her uncle was the king. He was very kind to the princess, and she was very happy.”

When her mother paused, Gabrielle blurted impatiently, “You’re the princess.”

“Gabrielle, you know that I am and that this story is about your father and me.”

“I know, but I like to hear you tell it.”

Her mother continued. “When the princess was of age, a bargain was struck with Baron Geoffrey of Wellingshire. The princess was to marry the baron and live with him in England.”

Because she knew that her daughter loved to hear about the wedding ceremony, the gowns, and the music, she went into great detail. The little girl clapped her hands with delight when she heard about the banquet feast, especially the description of the fruit tarts and honey cakes. By the end of the story, the mother’s narrative had become slow and labored. Exhaustion was catching up with her. The little girl took notice and, as was her ritual, she again made her mother promise she wouldn’t die today.

“I promise. Now it is your turn to tell me the story I taught you.”

“Every word just like you taught me, Mother? And just like your mother taught you?”

She smiled. “Every word. And you will remember it and tell your daughters one day so they will know of their family and St. Biel.”

Gabrielle grew solemn and closed her eyes to concentrate. She knew she must not forget a word of the story. This was her heritage, and her mother assured her that one day she would understand what that meant. She folded her hands in her lap and then opened her eyes again. Focusing on her mother’s encouraging smile, she began.

“Once upon a time in the year of the violent storms that tore in from the sea . . .”

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1143 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 26, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 26, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000W93A42
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,147 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The biggest issue I have with this book is that the voice in this book is not the Julie Garwood of THE PRIZE, SAVING GRACE, THE SECRET ect. I realize it has been a long time since we have had a historical offering from Ms Garwood, and that historical romances have evolved into well researched history as well as character driven stories, but Ms Garwood's voice has disappeared, Gone is the quirky funny heroine and the stern but lovable hero who is leveled by the love he feels for his heroine and her antics- typical Garwood "historical light", where the history is a subtle backdrop with characters who drive the romance.

Colm and Gabrielle, who don't even come together until after page 100, appear one dImensional: she hardly needs him as she is so perfect (Scottish Gaelic, not the language of King Wm's Scottish court, would hardly be a language she would have learned, at least in a previous book she had Jamie learn it from a native speaker adding a spark to the humor of the story) Garwood missed a chance for misunderstanding by having her heroine so perfect, hardly a reflection of real women of the period royal or not. And he is over shadowed by his brother who would have made a better hero. The inaccurate history takes the knowledgeable reader right out of the story in the beginning and could have been avoided as the elements/characters from other books could have been used as the devise to plot the story into the highlands. No fan expects indepth history from a Garwood novel but we do expect the scenarios to at least be believable and this one was flawed from the beginning and so out of character reflecting Ms Garwood's talent to weave a satisfying tale.

Sadly, the story so long anticipated by Garwood fans fell far short of her previous hardcovers and mass market fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow, I'd like an Alka Seltzer and a refund, not necessarily in that order. What a huge disappointment, and a hardcover disappointment at that.

Others have covered the plot particulars ad nauseum, and since they weren't worth discussing even once, I won't repeat them. Instead, I'll say this:

IF Julie Garwood indeed wrote this book, is it really the best she thinks her fans deserve? Her strengths in the past have included strong, likeable heroes and heroines, quirky but believable, who fit her historical style to a "T". Even the repetitive storylines (hard to avoid in romance) worked, because of the characters and her ability to make us root for them. And many of her stories were first-rate as well. Her earlier historicals are among my favorites, especially The Secret, The Wedding, The Prize, The Bride and of course, Honour's Splendor.

At some point, Ms. Garwood turned to writing "modern" romance; those books (yes, I actually bought one new based stricly on her name, then another used) were mediocre at best. The snap and vitality of her historical characters just didn't translate to modern times to make those works anything special. At least, not for me.

And now, after all these years, apparently Ms. Garwood has decided to settle for being a mediocre (at best) historical romance novelist as well. I know the "modern" romances didn't do as well (that happens when the work doesn't shine). But really....she just phoned this one in. It doesn't sound like her, doesn't work at any level, and has just become for me an expensive doorstop.

I've complained in earlier reviews of the dreck pumped out this year by so-called "established" historical romance writers; I was counting on Ms.
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24 Comments 265 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I only started reading Julie Garwood's historical novels this year. I absolutely loved them! I have read and reread "The Bride", "The Prize" "Ransom", "Honor's Splendour" "The Wedding", "Saving Grace" and "The Secret" so many times I practically have them memorized. I couldn't wait for "Shadow Music". Well, I read it the day it came out and NEVER have I been so disappointed in a book! I am not sure Ms. Garwood actually even wrote it. It took half of the book for the hero, Colm to meet the heroine, Gabrielle. They had no chemistry and in fact were never even together very much. I kept waiting for the magic of the other books but it never even got close. It took Ms. Garwood ten years to write this book and if this is what she is going to come up with I would say "Don't bother."!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shadow Music is the back-story of the feud between the MacKenna's and the Buchanan's that was discovered in her contemporary novel Shadow Dance: A Novel.

Princess Gabrielle's mother was part of the royal family of the Island of St. Biel, before she moved to England to be with her baron husband. The late king of that island was clever and when the Crusaders came he outwitted them, collected tolls, and sent gold to appease the Pope. Since that time rumors have existed about whether or not the king held back some of that gold.

Gabrielle is a great beauty and her physical allure is the cause of a competitive feud between two barons. The two baron's, fueled by empty promises by King John that one of the barons will have her hand in marriage, become obsessed with Gabrielle. When King John dupes the barons and promises Gabrielle to a Scottish Laird, the two baron's become more and more devious in their plans for Gabrielle.

Gabrielle accepts her fate and travels to Scotland only to have her life turned upside down, yet again. Needing protection she takes shelter with the Laird MacHugh and begins a journey of another sort.

I absolutely loved the first half of this story and flipped through the pages rapidly as I got caught up in the characters and intrigue. The romance between the Laird and Gabrielle promised to be explosive and the mystery of the gold and the devious barons added intrigue and excitement. The middle of this book was also great, though it began to plateau a bit. I began to wonder when things were going to start happening.
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