Monday, May 19, 2008

today's book: Shadow Dance by Susan Andersen *****

Shadow Dance by Susan Andersen.

Wow. After all the mediocre to bad reviews I read, I sorta wasn't looking forward to reading this. Wow. I have to say, I loved this book. I wonder if reading bad reviews set me up to expect it would be awful, making me think it was actually BETTER than it really is?? You know, how you're expecting bad so when it's not bad, you think it's great? I got myself to like yogurt that way - I just kept telling myself it would taste awful, then I'd take a taste and it wasn't too bad.

The reviews said: no chemistry between the protagonists; slow to start.

I say: the chemistry was there for me from the get-go, and each thought about the other practically all the time, to the point of distraction. She wondered about the true man behind the cop mask he put up; he wondered about the true woman behind the rich-girl-good-manners mask she wore. A lot. Constantly. Now, a lot of this was told from each character's POV as what they were thinking, and not in dialog. And sometimes a page or two of Thinking would be between lines of dialog - to be honest, a couple of times I had to go back to see what the previous line was, because by the time we got to the reply I'd forgotten.

More than one review remarked about his Scots accent, asking how he could be American and have that, what was his backstory, they didn't get to know him.

I say: did they read the same book?? Sheesh - it was said several times he was originally from Glasgow (which is in Scotland) and raised in an orphanage. And that he didn't bother to try to Americanize his speech. I didn't need a guidebook to figure out he had moved to the US as an adult and become a citizen, since he did say several times he was American. There was a lot about his being raised in an orphanage, trotted out for families to see, but then being too old to be adopted. Again, didn't need a guidebook to figure out - uh, his parents were dead, apparently no other family. We learned he was shy and found it hard to talk to women, that he found it hard to make friends. I feel like we learned a lot about him. And hey - I love a Scots accent!!

The AAR review has the heroine's name wrong, and details about the story wrong - really, can't they read the book before they post a review? Another review puts the story in Las Vegas - uh, it was Reno. Another mentions that the romance doesn't even happen until the end - hmmm, the first kiss happens about half-way through, not uncommon at all, in my experience. And he moves in with her about 2/3 of the way into the book. Moves in meaning Sleeping Together.

Another reviewer commented she couldn't figure out what the hero looked like - well, he was tall (over 6' 4", it said), wore glasses, had a great butt, looked like a Soloflex ad in jeans, sandy brown hair, gray eyes, white crooked teeth - I'm not sure what else she needed to know - birth marks?

Well, I don't know why I'm going on and on about it - it's ok for me to like a book that a lot of other people don't. Unless I'm only liking it in reaction to their not liking it? And yet, all those glowing reviews for Lisa Kleypas - my god, Dreaming of You came in 2nd in the Top 100 - and I thought it was mediocre and boring! Is it me??

I guess I'll have to do a re-read on Shadow Dance to see if I still think it's good.

Oh - the story: show girl dancer Amanda comes from an upper class family that she ran away from after high school - she lived in NY, making it on her own until she came into her trust fund at age 25 (she's now 28); she moved to Reno and now has a permanent position dancing 6 days a week. She owns a triplex, and the 2 other tenants are her co-workers - that is, until a serial killer murders 1 of them. Tristan MacLaughlin (bio above) is a Seattle cop brought in to run the task force to track down the killer - he has the background and experience no one on the Reno department has.

Their first meeting is when Tristan arrives in town and Amanda is at the morgue to identify the body. Personally, I thought the attraction started right then, and given their personalities each has a reason to sublimate the attraction (well, in my mind anyway).

Because Amanda now has an empty apartment, the other tenant Rhonda suggests Tristan live there, so he's now around a lot in addition to working on the case. Well - the suspense part is finding the serial killer and putting him out of commission. The romance part is Amanda and Tristan giving in to their mutual attraction and getting over the obstacles, mostly in their own personalities, thrown up that keep them apart. Basically each of them has an ingrained ability to freeze everyone else out - breaking down the ice shields is what finally brings them together. Even though she breaks down first, after the killer attacks her, her shield goes back up in a big way - and Tristan goes back to Seattle and has to wait her out. I thought Andersen did a terrific job of showing Tristan's vulnerabilities and insecurities about being rejected.

Some of the reviewers remarked about the plot - serial killer stalking the heroine (which isn't exactly true since he doesn't really target her til close to the end) - is cliched and over-used. Hmmmm, I actually can't say I've seen this plot used that much, although every romance I've read has the plot where there's a hero and a heroine who have to overcome some obstacle or 2 before they can get together romantically and live Happily Ever After. After all, that is what makes it a Romance... All these plots are the same - it's the journey - how the author gets them over the obstacle - that makes the book for me.

Oh I don't know why I'm letting this bother me so!! I wish I could be more eloquent, could write coherent and insightful reviews so I could post one that rebuts all the others!! It's almost as if I feel the need to, what? show my opinion matters? Yeah in a way, it's like there's something wrong with me that I like this book where so many others didn't - I'm not really standing up for the author, but for myself.

jeez I'm chewing on this like a dog on a bone. I gotta give it up. and go to bed. 5 stars.

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