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Shadow Woman

Shadow Woman

3.8 99
by Linda Howard

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From Linda Howard comes a thrilling and sensual new novel of romance, suspense, intrigue . . . and memories that can kill.
Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror.



From Linda Howard comes a thrilling and sensual new novel of romance, suspense, intrigue . . . and memories that can kill.
Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.
Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.
Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.

Praise for Shadow Woman
“Dazzling . . . From the opening line, [Shadow Woman] will grab readers and take them on an exhilarating and terrifying adventure!”—RT Book Reviews
“Fast-paced, intricately detailed romantic suspense . . . Readers won’t want to put it down until the extraordinary conclusion. . . . Highly recommended.”—Fresh Fiction
“An intriguing plot and captivating characters [with] lots of drama, tension, intrigue and suspense.”—The Star-Ledger

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Dazzling . . . From the opening line, [Shadow Woman] will grab readers and take them on an exhilarating and terrifying adventure!”—RT Book Reviews
“Fast-paced, intricately detailed romantic suspense . . . Readers won’t want to put it down until the extraordinary conclusion. . . . Highly recommended.”—Fresh Fiction
“An intriguing plot and captivating characters [with] lots of drama, tension, intrigue and suspense.”—The Star-Ledger

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.36(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

It was a normal morning. Lizette Henry—once upon a time Zette-the-Jet to her family and childhood friends—rolled out of bed at her usual time of 5:59 a.m., one minute before her alarm was set to go off. In the kitchen, the automatic timer on the coffeemaker would have just started the brewing process. Yawning, Lizette went into her bathroom, turned on the water in the shower, then while the water was heating took a desperately needed pee. By the time she was finished, the water in the shower was just right.

She liked starting her mornings off with a nice, relaxing shower. She didn’t sing, she didn’t plan her day, she didn’t worry about politics or the economy or anything else. While she was in the shower, she simply chilled—or more aptly, warmed.

On this particular July morning, her routine so honed and finely tuned she didn’t need to look at a clock to know what time it was at any point, she showered for almost precisely how long it would take the coffeemaker to finish its brewing process, then wrapped a towel around her wet hair and dried herself with a second towel.

Through the open door of the bathroom, the wonderful aroma of the coffee called to her. The bathroom mirror was fogged over with steam, but that would be clear by the time she’d fetched her first cup of the morning. Wrapping herself in her knee-length terry-cloth robe, she padded barefoot into the kitchen and grabbed one of the mugs from the cabinet. She liked her coffee sweet and light, so she added sugar and milk first, then poured the hot coffee into the mixture. It was like having dessert first thing in the morning, which in her book was a nice way to start off any day.

She took the coffee with her into the bathroom, to sip while she blow-dried her hair and put on the small amount of makeup she wore to work.

Setting the cup on the vanity, she unwound the towel from her head and bent forward from the waist, vigorously rubbing her shoulder-length dark brown hair. Then she straightened, tossing her hair back, and turned to the mirror—

—and stared into the face of a stranger.

The damp towel slid from her suddenly nerveless fingers, puddling on the floor at her feet.

Who is that woman?

It wasn’t her. Lizette knew what she looked like, and this wasn’t her reflection. She whirled wildly around, looking for the woman reflected in the mirror, ready to duck, ready to run, ready to fight for her life, but no one was there. She was alone in the bathroom, alone in the house, alone—


The word whispered through her mind, a ghost of a sound, barely registering. Turning back to the mirror, she fought through confusion and terror, studying this new person as though she were an adversary rather than . . . rather than what? Or, who?

This didn’t make sense. Her breathing came in swift, shallow gulps, the sound distant and panicked. What the hell was going on? She didn’t have amnesia. She knew who she was, where she was, remembered her childhood, her friend Diana and her other coworkers, what clothes were in her closet and what she’d planned to wear today. She remembered what she’d had for dinner the night before. She remembered everything, it seemed—except that face.

It wasn’t hers.

Her own features, what she saw in her mind, were softer, rounder, maybe even prettier, though the face she was looking at was attractive, if more angular. The eyes were the same: blue, the same distance apart, maybe a little deeper-set. How was that possible? How could her eyes have gotten more deep-set?

What else was the same? She leaned closer to the mirror, looking for the faint freckle on the left side of her chin. Yes, there it was, where it had always been; darker when she’d been younger, almost invisible now, but still there.

Everything else was . . . wrong. This nose was thinner, and more aquiline; her cheekbones more prominent, higher than they should have been; her jawline was more square, her chin more defined.

She was so completely befuddled and frightened that she stood there, paralyzed, incapable of any action even if one had occurred to her. She kept staring into the mirror, her thoughts darting around in search of any reasonable explanation.

There wasn’t one. What could account for this? If she’d been in an accident and required massive facial reconstruction, while she might not remember the accident itself, surely she’d remember afterward, known if she’d been in a hospital and undergone multiple surgeries, remembered the rehab; someone would have told her about everything, even if she’d been in a coma during her recovery. But she hadn’t been in a coma. Ever.

She remembered her life. There hadn’t been any accident, except for the one when she was eighteen that had killed her parents and turned her world completely upside down, but she hadn’t been in the car; she’d dealt with the aftermath, with the crushing grief, the sense of floating untethered in the black space of her life with all of her former security gone in the space of a heartbeat.

She had that same feeling now, of such unfathomable wrongness that she didn’t know what to do, couldn’t take in all the meanings at once, couldn’t grasp how fully this affected everything she knew.

Maybe she was crazy. Maybe she’d had a stroke during the night. Yes. A stroke; that would make sense, because it could screw with her memory. To test herself, she smiled, and in the mirror watched both sides of her mouth turn up evenly. In turn, she winked each eye. Then she held both arms up. They both worked, though after showering and washing her hair she thought she’d have already noticed if either of them hadn’t.

“Ten, twelve, one, forty-two, eighteen,” she whispered. Then she waited thirty seconds, and said them again. “Ten, twelve, one, forty-two, eighteen.” She was certain she’d said the same numbers, in the same sequence, though if she’d had a stroke would she be in any shape to judge?

Brain and body both appeared to be in working order, so that likely ruled out a stroke.

Now what?

Call someone. Who?

Diana. Of course. Her best friend would know, though Lizette wasn’t certain how she could possibly phrase the question. Hey, Di; when I get to work this morning, look at me and let me know if I have the same face today that I had yesterday, okay?

The idea was ludicrous, but the need was compelling. Lizette was already on her way to the phone when sudden panic froze her in mid-step.


She couldn’t call anyone.

If she did, they would know.

They? Who were “they”?

On the heels of that thought she was suddenly drenched in sweat, and nausea convulsed her stomach. She lurched back to the bathroom, barely making it to the toilet in time before she couldn’t hold back any longer. After throwing up the small amount of coffee she’d drunk, she clutched her stomach as dry heaves seized her body and wouldn’t let go. Sharp pain stabbed behind her eyes, so intense that tears blurred her vision, ran down her cheeks.

When the convulsive vomiting stopped, she weakly sat down on the cool bathroom floor and reached for the toilet tissue to mop her eyes, blow her nose. The terrible pain behind her eyes eased, as if an internal vise were being loosened. Panting, she closed her eyes and let her head drop back until it rested against the wall. She was so tired it reminded her of how she’d felt after just finishing a 30K run.

30K? How would she know what running thirty kilometers felt like? She wasn’t a runner, never had been. She walked on occasion, and when she was a kid she’d done some riding, but she wasn’t a fitness nut by any means.

The stabbing pain behind her eyes was back, and her stomach rolled. She sucked in air through her mouth, willing herself not to start heaving again. Putting her fingers on the inside corners of her eyes she pushed hard, as if she could force the pain out. Maybe the pressure worked; the stabbing eased, just as it had before.

The nausea and headache were kind of comforting, though. Maybe she was just sick. Maybe she had a weird virus that was making her hallucinate, and what she thought she was seeing in the mirror was just that: a hallucination.

Except she didn’t feel sick. And that was strange, because she’d just thrown up so violently her stomach muscles ached, and she’d had that piercing headache, but she didn’t feel sick. Now that it was over with, she felt perfectly well.

She also felt annoyed. Her schedule was completely shot; by now her hair should be dry, and her makeup on. She hated when anything disrupted the timeline she’d laid out for herself; she was so regimented, she made a Swiss watch look harum-scarum—

Wait a minute. Regimented? Her? When had that happened? It felt wrong, as if she were thinking of someone else entirely.

Abruptly she was retching again; she surged to her knees and bent over the toilet, choking, her stomach rolling, saliva dripping from her open mouth. This time the stiletto of pain behind her eyes was blinding. She gripped the edge of the sink beside her, holding on to prevent herself from collapsing on the floor—or headfirst into the toilet. Even as awful as the nausea and pain were, somewhere deep inside she felt an incongruous tickle of humor at the idea.

The spasms gradually faded and now she did collapse, but at least it was on her ass on the floor. Leaning back against the vanity, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes, mentally watching the pain pull back like a visible tide.

Obviously, she had to have some kind of bug. Just as obviously, no way could she go to work. Not only did she not want to make a spectacle of herself dry-heaving all over the place—or worse, wet-heaving—she didn’t want to give this to anyone else. After they recovered, they’d probably be after her with torches and pitchforks.

This was crazy. She didn’t think this way, about toilet-diving being funny, or about mobs with pitchforks. She thought about work, and her friends, and keeping the house clean and her laundry done. She thought about normal stuff.

Pain twinged again, not as sharp, not blinding, but there behind her eyes. She froze, waiting for the beast to grab her. Her stomach rolled, then calmed; the pain faded.

She needed to call in sick, the first time she’d done so since she began working at Becker Investments. Her department head, Maryjo Winchell, had a company-issued cell phone for this type of thing, and, being the careful type she was, Lizette had programmed Maryjo’s number into her own cell phone.

They would know.

Meet the Author

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Shadow Woman, Prey, Veil of Night, Ice, Burn, Death Angel, Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, Dying to Please, Open Season, Mr. Perfect, All the Queen’s Men, Now You See Her, Kill and Tell, and Son of the Morning, and co-author (with Linda Jones) of Blood Born and Running Wild. She lives in Alabama with her husband and a golden retriever.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Shadow Woman 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually love Linda Howard but the book was a little disappointing. Not nearly enough interaction between Liz and Xavier. They didnt even get together until page 217. I really hated that I spent so much on this book. Should have been well under $10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Decent, although too much time spent with the main character dreaming. The ending was wrapped up very quickly and with hardly any bang, more like a whimper.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story is interesting, the intrigue compelling, but the lack of character interplay and a weak romance bog it down somewhat. I would still recommend the book because it kept me engaged and the ending was a bit clever, if not terribly exciting. First let me say that I am a big LH fan. Having said that I found myself disappointed by this book, Well written, yes, with lots of mystery and suspense. But very little romance and that not until the book is almost over. I would like a little interaction between the hero/heroine. Both were strong characters and well portrayed, but absolutely no chance to see any sparks. Don't call it a romance, call it a mystery and you wont be disappointed. It was an enjoyable read. Linda Howard has a fabulous writing style. She writes quick and snappy books. She has a pretty impressive talent building a mystery and unfolding that with suspense. Her romances are usually just fabulous. This one was pretty good. The hero and the heroine were well matched, personality-wise. And they had some chemistry and there was some heat. I thought the set-up of the book was original and definitely had some intriguing moments. The book had a less than linear plot-line which was interesting. A lot of the crucial plot twists happened before the narrative started and the book unfolds in a suspenseful and mysterious way with some smart foreshadowing and misdirection. The reader really doesn't guess what is happening or how all the pieces fit together until the very end.   
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
Really great book with intriguing story line. Kept me entertained all the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disappointing. I've read all of Linda Howard books and this one is, by far, the least interesting and slowest moving. Character interaction was virtually nil; no tension; no drama. I'll reread her earlier books and will hold off purchasing anything new until I see other opinions.
arcdude More than 1 year ago
I thought this was one of Linda's better books. The plot was very original and did not seem formulaic, as can happen with a lot of authors who write a lot of novels. From reading other reviews, it seems many readers just want to read about sex and Linda did not get to it fast enough in this book. For them, I suggest Harlequin Romance novels, many of which are free at Barnes % Noble.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was good. I'm a long-time Linda Howard fan...all the way from her Linda Howington days, but something's been missing from her books lately. Don't get me wrong, she's still better than most - I guess I'm just not as fond of her "intrigue" novels. I agree with other reviewers, not enough interactaction between main characters. Good, but not great. Rather re-read "Son of the Morning."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She has written better. Still a good author and i will read more of her books.
Bitten-By-Love-Reviews More than 1 year ago
Warning: You will need a darkness, a candle and perhaps a delicious drink to cope with the twists in this story. Personally I have been a long time fan of Linda Howard. Which of course means I love how she can take a normal romance story and put several mysterious suspense filled twists in those plots, thereby keeping us as the readers guessing. This book is no exception! The story starts with a gunshot, a dead woman and bounces to our main character who comes off as a normal woman too sick to go to work except she doesn't recognize her own face. Add in the creepy (but sexy) Xavier whose bugged her house and the secret group who refers to her as "Subject C" and you might begin to agree with our poor main character who thinks that something fishy is going on. I would tell you more, but that would be cheating. Needless to say if you haven't read this book, then get out there and buy it. You won't regret it and for a few hours, you will enjoy a fun filled adventure of twists and of course a delicious taste of Xavier and Lizzy.
Robynn More than 1 year ago
I liked this book and yes, it forever for Xavier and Lizzy to finally reconnect. However, I think this would make a great first book in a series about them! They are hot and on the run and we all ready know them, so why not keep it going?
cindybuns More than 1 year ago
I always get a LH book and have enjoyed each and every one, some more than others. The plot I found to be a bit confusing in the beginning but eventually everything came together. A good read especially during this cold weather, sit by a fire, drink hot chocolate and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. There was plenty of cat and mouse moments, some humor, and romance. Another great novel by Linda Howard
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A great addition to my Linda Howard collection. I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very slow. Had hard time making myself finish it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will brb in a few min.s wait for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ok." *she once again lowers her ears and bends so her white fur barely touches the grass. She slowly pads forward towards the mouse and pounces onto it*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I seriously regret buying this book.  From the description, I expected something more along the lines of the Bourne Identity (woman doesn't remember her past, but discovers disturbing clues/skills that don't fit with what she thinks she knows of herself). Instead, I got a story with little action--from either the protagonist or her "lover." Even at the end, the neither DO anything, rather the problem is resolved (quite anti-climatically) by a secondary character. I'm used to being annoyed when a story with a female protagonist has the male love interest resolve the major conflicts (and unfortunately, this seems to be a common downfall in many stories). However, this one takes the cake: not only the heroine, but also her "hero," completely lack any sort of agency! What did either of them accomplish by the end of the book? Nothing! By the end of the novel, the status quo remains UNCHANGED.  So, what was the point, really? Yes, Lizzy woke up from her zombie-like state, but even the reason for why she had to become like that in the first place was totally bogus.  As for the romantic angle, it was nonexistent. She switches from fearing him to suddenly being in love with him with no state in between. Their interactions are so unrealistic, and there is no courtship, no romantic development. I couldn't feel any connection between them at all (even their "intense" sexual attraction was non-existent).  If I could give this book a negative rating, I would.
CeCeSG More than 1 year ago
I have been a Linda Howard fan for years. I have read so many of her books it would be hard to say which was my favorite. However, I could easily say this is my least favorite.  The first 75% of the book was narrative, very little intetaction between characters even as we watch them react to each other. This is of course subjective. I personally like a book with a lot of dialogue, so I foumd myself skimming through a lot of the story trying to get to some action. Truly the book had a good plot and a lot of potential, I just think some of it got lost in the narrative for me. So my advice isn't necessarily to skip this one, but definitely try some of her other books about black ops agents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every Linda Howard book and I really loved this one. Yes, it was different from her other works but I can't resist a strong female heroine. Loved Xavier. Woo Hoo. And I prefer even my favorite authors not to write as if they had a formula to follow just to satisfy previous readers. Others complained that it ended too suddenly or seemed to be incomplete but the resolution came just as it needed to. All the bad guys wrapped up and moving on. I couldnt put it down until I finished it. Don't want to rush the author but I can't wait for her next book as usual.