Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood

Book: The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood
Release Date: May 1992
Publisher: Pocket
Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval
Summary: Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud, as purposeful as she was loyal. The dear Scottish friend of her childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean...Nothing prepared her for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.
In a clash of spirited wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!

I couldn't have even begun to imagine a more heartwarming and amusing story than Judith and Iain's. Everything about this book was absolutely perfect. I loved all of the characters and loved to hate the villains. I'm amazed at how quickly each character stole my heart. Many of the minor characters, who only had their say for a few characters, manged to carve a place for themselves too.
The relationships were really what made this book. My favorite obviously being Judith and Iain's. I loved how sweet it was but at the same time it was fiery and banter filled. I also adored Judith and Frances Catherine's friendship as well as the odd friendship between Judith and Brodick (so funny).
I never picked up this book expecting it to make me laugh, especially not laugh out loud. Judith was an amazing character to read about and she always kept me laughing. The responses she drew from other characters were always amusing. My favorites were usually when she was purposely making Iain or Brodick mad.
I'm always wary before reading a medieval historical romance because of the extra religious nature they tend to pick up as well as the anti-women attitude some characters have. I'm so glad I gave this book a chance despite my misgivings. I thought Garwood did an amazing job with these common medieval values. She included them but they were never overbearing or tedious.
I love reading historicals but after about a year I find that they tend to blend together with the others I've read. The Secret is memorable, and while an hour hasn't even pasted yet, I don't see myself forgetting this wonderful story any time soon.

Thoughts as I Read:
  • "I'm just as certain she won't willingly come up here. Do you want me to force her?" Because she was staring at Iain, she didn't see Patrick give his brother a quick nod. Oh my gosh, I'm already in love with all of the characters, especially Patrick. Can't wait to see how Iain and Judith's trip goes. I hope there's lots of witty banter!
  • "I was wrong, Alex. She isn't pretty. She's damn beautiful." Alex nodded. "Aye, she is," he admitted. "Will you look at Brodick?" Gowrie said then. "If I didn't know better, I'd guess he was about to swoon." I can totally picture all of these rough, tough Scotsmen baffled by this tiny woman. I love how fiery she is with them and how playful they are with her.
  • She let out another gasp when the leader tried to snatch her out of her saddle. She slapped his hands away. It was a puny defense against such a big man, and it was obvious to her that he was vastly amused by her action, too. Iain won me over way faster than most historical romance heroes do, I completely adore him. And Judith brings out such wonderful responses from him.
  • "Why didn't you say something when Cameron called me your woman?" He shrugged. "I didn't feel like it." Oh no! The journey is almost over. I really hope the book continues to have as much Iain/Judith interaction. I'd hate for the middle to just be glances and thoughts. I really hope this isn't the last time we see Brodick or Alex too.
  • "You stay away from me, Iain Maitland," she commanded. "And if you think to order me to quit being cold, I'm warning you now-it won't work." I wanted to throw this quote in there but my thoughts are on how cute Judith and Frances Catherine are together. They're much more like loving sisters than just friends. You can tell how special their relationship is from just the first paragraph of their reintroduction.
  • "Please leave me alone." It was a ridiculous order, considering that she had a death grip on his shirt. Iain rested his chin on the top of her head and tightened his hold on her. "No," he whispered. "I'm never going to leave you alone." What a perfect scene! I really liked how emotional Judith was before, during & after her venture through midwifing. Made me love her even more and Iain couldn't have been sweeter.
  • "You may give her hell, but you can't raise your voice while you're at it." "Why not?" "You might upset her," Iain explained with a shrug. "I can't allow that." I find it endlessly amusing that everyone is catching on to how Iain's feeling except Judith. And Judith's little protests make it even funnier.
  • "Detain him." "For what purpose?" Alex asked. "The wedding," Iain answered. Patrick laughed. Brodick joined in. Alex continued to look confused. "What about Judith?" he asked. "Will she agree?" Oh, poor Judith. About to be a bride and is still claiming she and Iain don't like each other... I love how Iain has no problem arranging everything without her knowledge. It fits his personality perfectly.
  • "Judith," he began. "Yes, Iain?" "I'm keeping you." The characterizations during this scene were perfect! I couldn't stop giggling either. Definitely a wedding I will remember.
  • "You're sleeping in my bed tonight. I thought you might want to be married first." Isn't Iain so considerate and charming? I do have to say that I loved their first night together because, really, who doesn't enjoy a great sex scene. I love a HEA and my dirty little mind requires a little something... maybe even a lot of something. Garwood certainly delivers.
  • Matters of the heart were damn confusing, he decided. He remembered how he'd boasted to Patrick that one woman was just as good as another. He understood the blasphemy in that arrogant remark now. There was only one Judith. I'm so glad Garwood returned Iain's thoughts to his feelings at the beginning of the book. I hate when characters don't do at least a little reflection.
  • He was acting extremely possessive. Judith had to bite her lower lip to keep herself from laughing. Frances Catherine had been correct. Iain was jealous. She didn't know if she should be pleased or insulted. I'd forgotten all about handsome Ramsey! I'm so glad Judith got to meet him in front of Iain. I was really hoping Ramsey would leer at her and we'd get to see some more of that jealously, but no such luck.
  • Judith took a deep breath. "Aye, you captured Iain's wife," she said again. "But he married your daughter." I can't stop reading! Or posting quotes ;)

Rating: 5 Bites


  1. I am a HUGE fan of Julie Garwood! And she lives right here in Kansas City. I've read all of her "old" stuff, including this book, and most of her "new" stuff. I really like her historical romances and am glad you gave this genre a try, especially since it's my favorite genre! :-)

  2. This book was exciting, funny and absolutely difficult to put down. I found myself trying to sleep but couldn't until I finished it. My family thought I was crazy from all the laughter they would here. I recommend it to EVERYONE! I can't wait to read RANSOM and see what happens to 2 other wonderful characters from this book. Julie Garwood is the BEST!


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