Friday, 23 August 2013

The Secret by Julie Garwood

The Secret (1992) (Simon and Schuster)
Julie Garwood
Grade: A-
Genre: medieval romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: eBay
Highlands' Lairds: (1) The Secret, (2) Ransom

Judith and Frances Catherine became best friends before they even knew they were natural enemies. The English and Scots don’t mix, but four-year-old girls aren’t ones to understand such feuds and by that point, their friendship is too firm to break. Judith lives in England: six months with her wonderful aunt and uncle near the Scottish border, and the other six months with her unloving mother and drunk uncle Tekel. Her time with Aunt Millicent and Uncle Herbert is the time of year she gets to see Frances Catherine, and the happiest time of her life.

Now, Frances Catherine needs Judith. The result of a childhood promise, Judith needs to be on her way up to Frances Catherine’s new home before her friend gives birth to her first child. Both Frances Catherine’s mother and grandmother died during childbirth, and she’s terrified that she’s going to be subject to the same fate. Sent to collect Judith from Uncle Tekel’s home is Iain Maitland, laird of his clan and Frances Catherine’s ruthless brother-in-law.

Iain is sure that the English woman will refuse to accompany him and his men, but to their surprise, Judith is not at all what they expected. It’s a long journey back to the Highlands that they call their home, and with every moment that Judith is forced to spend in Iain’s company, she comes to realise that he’s not the cold-hearted and uncaring warrior that he appears to be. As Judith reaches his home and faces the wrath of the entire clan, it’s her task to win them over, and Iain soon comes to realise that he’s loath to let her go. 

I love Julie Garwood. All her medieval books have the same basic theme, but each variation is great fun to read. To put it in a nutshell: English heroine, alpha-sometimes-bordering-on-asshole Scottish hero with a huge England-Scotland feud going on. Circumstances for some reason force them together, and she goes to live with his clan who all hate her; they fall in love and eventually live happily ever after. The Secret was no different, and certainly predictable, but in Julie Garwood’s case, that’s something I love.

Judith is fantastic. She gives meaning to the phrase ‘feisty heroine’ and even when she’s in a position where she knows that everyone hates her, she doesn’t give in and like only romance-heroines can do, makes everyone love her. Iain takes her foibles in stride and when he learns of news that puts her in danger, he does everything that he can to protect her; there’s no question that he’s a goner.

The Secret is perhaps not quite as dramatic as some of the other Julie Garwood books I've read, and even though I've read it a few times now, I keep expecting something big and new to happen, despite knowing that it won't. This is another of the books I've had to read again before I can review it, but that was by no means a chore. I can't wait to delve into the rest of the Garwood books I've got waiting.

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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