on February 29, 2004
Julie Garwood is absolutely beautiful in her writing. This is one of my favorites from her, and I have many! 'The Secret' is funny, touching, heartwarming, and filled with out-loud gasps, sighs, and laughs. I don't think I've ever laughed so much reading a book.
She's very talented and knows how to layer up her characters to the point where you can guess what they'll do next. Her eye for detail is one remarkable thing, and it puts you back in time.
When I started this book, I was hooked. Never put it down! Iain Maitland and Judith Hampton, along with the many others, were greatly brought to life, and their arguments are hilarious. So is the way Iain confuses the heck out of Judith.
All together: A remarkable, beautiful romance. I recommend it to all who like to read a good book. I'd also recommend a few others writers, starting with an all-time fave, Nora Roberts --who also writes under the pen name JD Robb for her "... in Death" series. Barbara Delinsky, Luanne Rice, Danielle Steel, Debbie Macomber, Judith McNaught, and Stephanie Laurens are awesome, too! Check them out whenever you can. You won't regret!
on February 12, 2004
The Secret is one of Julie Garwood's fantastic novels featuring a tough, sexy Scottish Laird and a daring and sweet English Lady. The Laird is Iain Maitland a rough and disciplined warrior who is used to being obeyed and has a temper like a thunderstorm. The Lady is Judith Hampton, a woman who has spent her life moving back and forth to live with different relatives but remains hopeful and cheery.
The character's personalities are really good. Iain is direct, forceful and protective, but as the book develops he really lets his guard down with Judith. Judith is sassy and bold and forward thinking, she tries to make things better for the women in Iain's clan, and Iain, being a nice guy in a bad boy's body backs her up and helps her get her way.
Overall I loved this book and reread it a lot. It's charming, funny and sentimental. The ending is great and leads me on to giving the sequel a mention. The sequel is called Ransom and is another one of my Five Star reviews and probably my favourite historical of them all. Reading The Secret really pays off because you can then find out about what happens to Brodick (sigh - surely the sexiest and strong yet kind hero ever written) and Ramsey (not half bad either!) as well as catching up on dear Judith and dishy Iain. In the next book two more heroines, the perceptive and smart Gillian and the naïve but lovable Brigid are introduced. So, what the hell are you waiting for? Read these books!
on August 15, 2003
Three words: Buy this book. This is one of Julie's best books. The story begins with the heroine, Judith, attending a Scottish fair when she is five years old. It is here that she meets her best friend, Mary Kathleen (also five) while battling a bee. In this friendship is the grounding Judith needs in her tumultous life.
Years later, Judith travels to Mary Kathleen in order to be present for the birth of Mary Kathleen's first child. To fetch her, Mary Kathleen sends her brotherin-law and laird, Ian, who promptly belives that Judith will have to be taken by force to Scotland. However, when he arrives, she is packed and ready to go.
The love story between Judity and Ian is amazing. It's sweet and progresses with believable pacing. The side characters of Brodrick and Ramsey set up another classic of Garwood "Ransom." However, it is important to realize that one of the main grounding points of this book is the friendship between the two women. This is not a topic often discussed or talked about in a romance novel, and provides a nice change of pace.
I highly recommend this book.
on January 1, 2003
This is the second book that I've read by Julie Garwood, and I have to say that even though the author uses a bit of a formula for her stories, I stayed interested in the plot and the characters.
Judith Hampton and Frances Catherine had been friends since childhood and neither were bothered by the fact that Judith was English and Frances Catherine, Scottish. Frances Catherine's mother had died in childbirth and she had the fear that the same fate awaited her. The two friends made a pact that whenever Frances Catherine was married and ready to have a baby; Judith would be with her. Neither girl anticipated the fact that the Scottish lairds hated all things English and did not warm to the idea of having Judith visit Scotland.
After a lot of debating, several Scotsman, including Laird Ian Maitland, go to England to bring Judith to her friend's assistance. Judith and Ian are immediately attracted to each other, but both fight the love and affection that seems inevitable. This is a good love story, but I also found the information about birthing and mid-wives to be interesting. The horror that women faced when dealing with childbirth in the dark ages was unbelievably barbaric and often tragic.
on November 29, 2002
I know I have one, and this book is definitely in the top tier. There are some books by romance authors that you can just go and read over and over again, and I find that this is one of the best.
The story starts out charming and doesn't stop there. You're introduced to two little girls -- Judith and Frances Catherine, who should not be friends -- because one is English and one is Scottish. Of course, that never stopped anybody! They become best friends and maintain this bond through the years.
Fast forward a bit and Scottish Frances Catherine is expecting her first baby, and wants English Judith to be at her side. The laird, Iain Maitland, figures that Judith will say no to this request, and takes 3 of his men to go get her. To everyone's surprise, Judith is not only ready, but she's practically begging to be taken away from her abusive household.
Along the way, Iain and Judith fall in love, and the Secret of Judith's past threatens to tear them apart for all time. Of course, it won't because this is a romance novel, but there is still a lot of mystery and conflict surrounding the refreshingly innocent Judith.
There is a ton of humor in this book -- you will laugh over what the Scottish men say when they discuss Judith. You'll laugh over Judith's actions as she worries herself into a panic. I laughed my head off at the beginning of the book, with the strange friendship between Frances Catherine and Judith. It is obvious that Julie Garwood has a love for life and loves to laugh -- it is inherent through her books.
I cannot stress how much I love this book! Judith is very innocent and stubborn, and has had a hard life. You'll find yourself really cheering for her as the story goes by, and wanting everything to work out for her. She charms everyone she runs into (and charms the reader as well) Frances Catherine is a gem and I found that Iain was very easy to fall in love with. This is a story where all the characters are perfect, and fun to read about. No long, extended arguments, no long, extended seperations, none of the things that normally drive me nuts in a romance book -- Julie Garwood has made 'The Secret' into romantic perfection.
on November 15, 2002
Julie Garwood has a way of drawing in you in to her story -on the first page or so, I was already hooked. The first half of "The Secret" was so engrossing that I stayed up into the wee hours of the night to keep reading, only stopping when I could no longer keep my eyes open. The basic plot is (Scottish Laird)Iain, has gone to fetch (half English/half-Socttish) Judith from England so she can be present for the birth of her best friend's child (and Iain's sister-in-law), Frances Catherine. Along the journey, our hero and heroine rather quickly develop an attraction, portrayed very convincingly by the author. By the time they arrive at the Maitland holdings, Iain has decided to wed Judith, even if she doesn't realize this yet. Of course - there are several "secrets" that cause problems for the couple and their friends. There are many humorous moments that had me laughing out loud, and just as many tender,romantic moments. Unfortunately, while this was still a very good, fun read, I felt that things tended to get very crazy towards the last quarter of the book - silly complications and plot twists that interfered with the flow of the story. I could have done without the entire chunk of discussions about "Sunday" holidays for women, for example. There is a return to the humor and more imprtantly - the plot- at the very end and everything gets tied up quite nicely. Worth reading, just not a keeper for me.
on August 9, 2002
What a wonderful book showing how prejudices are taught and how it is possible to keep them from being taught. 2 girls who at a very young age don't know they are supposed to not like each other become fast friends, though they only meet once a year. Wow imagine what it was like before telephones, girls writing and email. These two become very fast friends so many years later when Frances Catherine is to have her baby she does the unthinkable and sends for her childhood friend Lady Judith to be with her (ack an English woman in the Scottish Highlands...). Well to everyone's surprise (especially to the 4 Scottish warriors sent to get her) she is more than ready to make this trip. She even manages to win over all of the warriors. Especially the clan leader (what do you expect this is a romance you know). But, the book is well written and the research that was done was evident to all.
If you want a story about true friendship, family love this is a great one for you. You will see how Judith adapts to the Scottish Highlands and wins everyone while "standing up to the Laird".
I would love to see Ramsey and Brodrick's storys - Hint hint
on June 3, 2002
Judith Hampton and France Catherine Kirkclady became friends before they knew they were supposed to hate each other. They were born enemies. Judith was English and Frances Catherine was Scottish. But that never stopped them from meeting every year at the border festival, which was where they met. Over the years their friendship became stronger and unbreakable. Judith made a promise when she was 11 years old to come to Scotland when Frances Catherine was about to have her baby. Frances Catherine believed she would die in childbirth like her mother and grandmother before her.
Now several years later it's time for Judith to fulfill her promise. Iain Maitland, Frances Catherine's brother-in-law, comes to escort her to Scotland. He's a very quiet, intimidating man, but Judith never lets herself feel intimidated by him, even in the beginning. Iain, Brodick, Gowerie, and Alex are shocked that this Englishwoman keeps her promise to Frances Catherine. They believe the English never keep their promises.
During the long trip to Scotland Judith and Iain find themselves becoming more and more attracted to each other. Iain tries to distance himself from her, but he can't ignore the soft feelings she produces in him. And she can't help herself from falling in love with the brave warrior. When they finally get there it's obvious to everyone that their laird has lost his heart to the sweet Englishwoman. Even though, he himself, won't admit it. As their loves begins to blossom Judith worries about what the identity of her father will to to their new love. A secret so horrible it could destroy that love. . .
I found this book very refreshing. It wasn't at all like I expected it to be. The plot sounded familiar, but I went ahead and read it anyway. I'm glad I did. This story is one of the most original I have ever read. And the plot flowed smoothly. I find no flaws with any of it.
The characters were absolutely lovable. Their flaws made them charming. The secondary characters really made this story more enjoyable and realistic. Like Graham and Gelfred(two elders on the council), Patrick and Frances Catherine, and Brodick.
Frances Catherine and Judith's friendship was so inspiring. Most people wouldn't stick by their friends, the way those two did. And Iain and Judith's love was so sweet. Most romances I've read revolved around sex and lust. They fall in love, but you never really see the emotional connection. But you do in this book. Their love scenes are so sweet and you can tell that they belong together. That's a rare thing to find in a romance, nowadays.
The witty dialogue and child-birthing scenes will make you laugh. Judith does a lot of things in this book to make you laugh, but you never stop admiring her kind spirit or her boldness. I also liked how Iain never became a "milksop." Most macho guy heroes turn into gushing idiots, which is usually out of their character and really annoying.
You'll love the love, friendships, loyalty, and trust in this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll smile, and you'll wish to find a love like that. This book is perfect for anyone who loves to read.
on April 8, 2002
This was my first Garwood book but it wonï¿½t be my last. I loved everything about it. There was just enough conflict between the hero and heroine, the hero was just arrogant enough, the heroine just independent enough. Judith Hampton was an English woman who had been lied to all of her life. Her mother and uncle had told her stories about her father being a dead English hero. When she was eleven years old, her aunt told her the truth. Judithï¿½s mother had married a Scottish warrior who kicked her out when he found out she was pregnant with his child. For this reason her mother had very little to do with Judith and was usually not around while Judith was growing up. Left with her uncle who was crippled in an accident, Judith learned to stay out of his reach when he was drunk and feeling mean. She lived with him six months of the year and another aunt and uncle the other six. While a four year old child staying with her aunt and uncle, she met a Scottish girl, Frances Catherine, who became a lifelong cherished friend. While they were children, Judith promised Frances Catherine she would come be with her when she had her first child. When Frances Catherineï¿½s brother-in-law goes to England with his warriors to get Judith, she is met with their disdain for England and its people. It is also the first time she lays eyes on Iain Maitland, lord of his clan. The attraction between the two is instant. Used to being ignored and considered insignificant, Judith isnï¿½t surprised by the hostility she is met with by her escort or the citizens in Scotland. It was fun reading how she dealt with all of them and especially Iain, a man who had never been in love and thought it a weakness.
I am going to read the sequel now and hope it is as good. This book is a keeper for all lovers of romance.
on March 10, 2002
after having read about a million reviews gushing over this book with every other person declaring this the best book ever written or "their all time favorite" i decided to check it out. romance books are to often just plain awful. dialouge and plot more often then not take a a back seat to implausible relationships. you will never hear me complain about garwood's dialouge. honestly she is one of the best authors to deal with this difficult topic. getting written dialouge to sound natural is a hard task but mrs. garwood masers it superbly.
this book is another one of mrs. garwood's english/scottish crossovers. iain maitland is laird of his clan and when his brother's wife requests that her english best friend be allowed to come to their home to assit when she has her child iain reluctantly agrees and sets off to fetch this englishwoman. sexual tension abounds from the beginning which was nice change from many novels where two characters just suddenly decide they want each other desperately. judith, the english friend, and iain's relationship is complex and full of plenty of laughs. though garwood seems to have a fascination with blonde hair, violet eyed heroines that are so beautiful men trip over themselves staring at her that's what romance novels are all about.
i read this book directal after i read "the bride" and was a bit annoyed to see that it followed the same basic pattern but there were enough changes to make this book worth the read. this is one work i think i'll hang on to and i know i will be check out "ransom" the sequel to the book as well as the rest of garwoods works.
in short this book is worth the time to read it!