Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ransom by Julie Garwood

Ransom (1999) (Pocket Books)
Julie Garwood
Grade: A
Genre: medieval romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: own
Highlands' Lairds: (1) The Secret, (2) Ransom
Romance RBC 2014: An AAR Top 100 Romance 2007 

At three-years-old, Gillian witnessed her father’s death at the hands of Baron Alford, as her father tries to send Gillian and her older sister Christen to safety with Arianna’s Box, a great treasure belonging to King John. When her father is betrayed, the sisters are torn apart. Years later, Gillian is blackmailed by Baron Alford into finding her sister and the Box so that the power-hungry Baron can gain favour with King John.

When Gillian witnesses a botched kidnapping, she sees this as her opportunity to challenge Baron Alford and break free of his clutches. Heading north to Scotland where Christen is now allegedly living, with young Alec in tow (the boy who was mistakenly kidnapped), Gillian finds allies in Brodick Buchanan, a powerful and feared laird who is also Alec’s protector, and his friend, Ramsey Sinclair. Along with her new friend, Brigid KirkConnell, Gillian finds the strength and resolve to fight Baron Alford and take control of her life.

As December 31 looms ever-nearer, it becomes every more likely that each of my RBC 2014 charts will be left with those last few empty slots that just can’t be filled without proper advance planning. One sub-category of the romance list which I know could be met fairly straight-forwardly was the AAR Top 100 Romances lists. Having combed through the six lists (and damning myself for not having used other titles I read earlier in the year to meet these categories) I was left with the result that for the four Top 100 lists I had left (1998, 2004, 2010, 2013), the only author whose books I already owned (for ease of completing these challenges quickly) and hadn’t yet read, was Julie Garwood.

We first met Brodick and Ramsey in The Secret where both were good friends of the hero, Iain Maitland and both infatuated with his English wife and heroine Judith. The pair thought they would follow Iain’s example and find wives of their own in England, setting off on quest to do just that. Their adventure hadn’t ended well and both returned to their lives in Scotland. It’s now six years later and both have given up actively searching for a wife to concentrate on building their estates. Brodick is instantly infatuated with this tiny slip of a woman who has managed to keep Alec safe, despite the dangers she’s faced. His soldiers are similarly cast under Gillian’s spell and in no time at all, they’re willing to put their lives on the line to protect her.

Of Garwood’s medieval romances that I’ve read, the majority have been standalones; I can never remember which books are in which series and which order they should be read in, so I tend to veer away from the series. This time, it was great to re-visit old characters who now have their happy ever after – even better because I didn’t realise how involved Iain and Judith would be in Ransom. As with all Garwood’s heroines, Gillian is scarily brave and adamantly resistant to Brodick’s alpha ways. Brigid and Ramsey’s romance may have only been a secondary one, but it was still highly satisfying to watch a supposedly infallible male fall in love. I perhaps enjoyed some of Garwood’s other medieval more, but this was still a treat.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction. 

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