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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on April 25, 2000
All of Julie Garwood's books are wonderful - some of her books are classics - this is one of them! What exactly made this book stand out from all of the others? Easy I read it so fast I had to re-read the next day to enjoy the parts I missed. This book has everything: a friendship between two women that was part of the story not just a passing paragraph. I was able to read about a true friendship instead of a jealous rivalry. Most books pit one woman against another, it was refreshing in itself to read about Judith and Frances Catherine's relationship. Not to mention the friendships between the men. In my opinion, this is just one of the reasons that made this book special. Judith Hampton was a strong heroine, independent yet vulnerable. I loved her interaction with various characters and how her love for Iain became a part of her. But I have to admit one of my absolute favorite things about Judith was her reaction everytime she had to use her midwifing skills! LOL! Iain Maitland. Well, what can you say about a gorgeous highlander with a heart! He was breathtaking, strong, capable but most of all he was tender. The romance was a beautiful thing to read and their interaction together was hilarious! I laughed so much my sides hurt and I cried so much my head ached! The secondary characters made this book come alive. Brodick, Ramsey, Frances Catherine and Patrick were all part of the fabric of this wonderful story!
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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.
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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.
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The Secret was the first Historical Romance I ever read. I loved it so much that I read it 13 times!! I have a friend who is legally blind and when I told her about the book, she asked me to read it to her over the phone since I didn't live close to her. She absolutely loved it also and had me read it to her over and over again. We both fell absolutely head over heels in love with Iain, he was and still is our perfect dream man.

This is one book that can not be put down once you pick it up no matter what time of night it is. I saw many a sunrise because I was so engrossed in the story from the first reading to the 13th. I have let other people borrow my book and everyone came back with the same feeling as I had about this wonderful story--happy and wishing that todays men were as wonderful as Iain is--considerate and loving, strong and soft.

I keep looking for a sequel to The Secret. I hope Julie Garwood writes one soon. Every one of her books have made me laugh and cry and left me hoping fo
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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!
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on May 28, 2000
The first book I read from Julie Garwood's collection was The Wedding and ever since then I became obsessed with her books. I had this urgent need to find all her books and just get lost in those tales...and I did. Her Scottish novels intrigued me and I will never get bored with them. This book, the Secret, has held a special place in my heart ever since I finished it. It made me smile when the Judith and Frances Catherine were young and their first meeting was filled with childish believes and how the screaming started from one child to another. It got me all warmed up to read how a warrior, all tough and invincible, can soften towards a beautiful woman. It certainly made me laughed when Judith was to be married to would too when you get to that part. And all other parts of the book. It is a place away from reality, a place where love and all silly things can will take more than just a tap on the shoulder to put those books eyes did not leave the words until I was at the last page. You will sign in content.
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on October 8, 2000
Wow! This book is definitely a keeper! I have reread this more than 5 times and still get the same reaction. It is excitingly a page turner. This book brings about all sorts of emotions, from the beginning to the end, no boring scenes whatsoever! The friendship of Frances Catherine & Judith is impressively well designed. The adjustment of Judith to the Highland ways & how the people reacted to her was surely a roller coster, mixed emotions-which I find utterly heart quenching. Of couse, not to forget the hero/heroine... The love story of Iain & Judith completely warms my heart, they are both different yet perfect for each other. Even the secondary characters, all uniquely described and well written. The friendships, trust & loyalty, the love and acceptance...all made this book a perfect 10. 5 stars rating is simply an understatement. J.G. have outdone herself this time!
Sequel: RANSOM - Another perfect story. A must read after SECRET.
Note: I would like to enumerate some scenes that makes this book a perfect 10 for me but it's not fair to mention only one or even two, as I find all situations/scenes, even the smallest of all.... interesting, hilarious, exciting, tear jerker & endearing in its own magical ways. This book is worth your time! READ IT.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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