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Book Review: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

To be completely honest, The Shape of Desire was a major letdown for me. I’ve loved everything Sharon Shinn has ever written – especially Archangel. The Shape of Desire is her first paranormal romance, and I have to say that it was underwhelming and off-base.

Book Review: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

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the shape of desire sharon shinn

Title & Author: The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn

Genre: Fantasy – Shape-Shifters

Release Date: April 2, 2012

Series: Standalone with related books

Publisher: Ace

How I Got the Book: Bought


“For fifteen years Maria Devane has been desperately, passionately in love with Dante Romano. But despite loving him with all of her heart and soul, Maria knows that Dante can never give all of himself back-at least not all the time.
Every month, Dante shifts shape, becoming a wild animal. During those times, he wanders far and wide, leaving Maria alone. He can’t choose when he shifts, the transition is often abrupt and, as he gets older, the time he spends in human form is gradually decreasing. But Maria, who loves him without hesitation, wouldn’t trade their unusual relationship for anything.
Since the beginning, she has kept his secret, knowing that their love is worth the danger. But when a string of brutal attacks occur in local parks during the times when Dante is in animal form, Maria is forced to consider whether the lies she’s been telling about her life have turned into lies she’s telling herself…”

When Fave Authors Disappoint

I’d to preface my review by saying that The Shape of Desire was a departure for Sharon Shinn. As far as I know, this was her first paranormal romance novel.

When I first read the description, that didn’t worry me because I had built a trust with Shinn. I’d read her entire Twelve Houses series and LOVED THEM, so I thought, this is still the same author – I’m sure this book will be awesome.

I walked into reading The Shape of Desire with limited expectations – I was merely hopeful and excited. …and I was completely crushed.

This novel has a very simple plot. Maria is a woman in her mid-30s who writes reports for a mid-level company. Her long-term (we’re talking 15+ years) boyfriend Dante is a shape-shifter, and she only sees him for a few days every month. When murders start cropping up in the area by a “unidentified wolf/bear hybrid,” Maria starts to wonder if her beloved Dante is the killer.

Simple can definitely work well in a book, but this storyline was beyond simple. It was boring. The entire book consisted of Dante leaving, Maria pining and suffering from a depression, Dante coming back…then leaving again. THE END.

I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not.

The Shape of Disaster

A few other things that added to my ultimate disappointment with The Shape of Desire were:

1. Maria has an unhealthy obsession with Dante. She often quotes lines from a poem that says: “Because the birthday of my life, Is come, my love, is come to me.” Although that sounds romantic, it’s said in the context that Maria essentially cannot live a happy life if Dante is not in it.

Maria says that even if Dante is the killer, she’ll cover for him and stick by him. Disturbing?…I think yes.

2. There is no tension or read-on appeal. The only thing that kept me putting one page behind another was my determination to really give The Shape of Desire a shot. If I had never read Shinn, I would have put down this book by page 50. There isn’t a sense of “OMG, I need to keep reading!” in this book at all.


This is one review I won’t soften the blow on: The Shape of Desire is not a book that I can recommend. The story was flat and uninteresting, and I didn’t like the portrayal of a sick obsession as a good, healthy relationship. Save your money on buying The Shape of Desire.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.