Book: The Bride by Julie Garwood

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Highlands Period Romantic Suspense

Preferred Reading Environment: A rocking chair overlooking the green, hilly countryside.

Reading Accoutrements: Whiskey

Those of you who read my Heather Graham Author Spotlight know that my mother is the person who got me hooked on romance novels. We now have what I like to call the mother-daughter romance book exchange and it is one of the primary reasons that my bookshelves are stacked three deep right now. For those of you who like to read hard copies, exchanging books is a great way to refresh your shelves! You get a lot of new titles and authors this way.

My mom gave me The Bride, by Julie Garwood, a while ago as part of this exchange. The book is about Jamie Jamison, the beautiful and stubborn step-daughter of a lazy English baron, and Alex Kincaid, the laird of Clan Kincaid and emissary of the Scottish king. While on a trip to London, Alex is informed by both the king of England and the king of Scotland that he is to marry an English girl – one of the four daughters of Baron Jamison, who is currently out-of-favor with the king of England due to unpaid taxes. While all four girls are already promised to various English suitors, the English king has chosen to overrule the betrothal of the girl Alex chooses. (I am overcome with gratefulness to the founding fathers for making it so I could choose who I marry…instead of the President…*shudders*).

Jamie is the youngest daughter (and only step-daughter) of Baron Jamison and she is his favorite – mostly because Jamie runs his household for him. The baron is so reliant on his daughter that he even made a deal with her betrothed (seriously, the Englishmen in this book are all about women as property…) to ensure they would live with him. He has a serious breakdown when Alex chooses Jamie to take with him to Scotland. The two are married and leave that same day.

Often in Highlands Romances, the characters tend to hate each other because one of them is English and the other Scottish. The usual discord between Scottish and English is even more pronounced in this book because of the rumors of Alex Kincaid’s brutality. Many believe that Alex killed his first wife, though the official report was that she committed suicide. Jamie is determined to stand up to her husband should he show his brutal Scots nature, but Alex seems equally determined to coddle her. He gets upset when she protects her older sister from thugs and irritated when she wants a job to do in his house. Jamie becomes more and more upset because Alex doesn’t want to need her, while Alex gets upset because his wife won’t let him be her protector.

It’s a classic case of mistaken identity. Jamie has mistaken need for love. She wants her husband to need her like her step-father needed her, so that she won’t be abandoned. Meanwhile, Alex has made himself a promise never to love someone because of the death of his first wife. He feels that love will make him weak, therefore he avoids it. But his responsibility is to Jamie and Alex knows that she wants to be needed, even though she deserves love.

While the two do battle to win each other over, the clan priest does the majority of their communicating. He’s probably my favorite character because he can see both of their faults and mistakes and he ACTS on that. He shares his insight with the two so they will get along better. And he’s funny, too – he doesn’t adhere to the need for indulgences like his English counterparts, which leads to some interesting early interactions with Jamie. I wish every romance novel with lack-of-communication plot points had a character like him.

Another thing I love about this book (and really MOST Highland period romances) is the strong women. Jamie is capable of defending herself, healing the severely wounded, and running a clan. She stands up to one of the fiercest Highland warriors on her own behalf. She is kind and smart and…well, a little superstitious. She makes other women stronger just with her presence. Jamie’s faith in people is even the reason she discovers that Alex’s first wife was murdered.

Speaking of which: Yes, this is a Highland period romantic suspense novel (say that five times fast). The murderer is bent on killing Jamie next. Alex wants to protect the woman he is falling for; Jamie wants to right a wrong AND protect the man she is falling in love with. It’s basically the perfect combination of romance and suspense for me and I think you’ll like it, too!

Do you like books that mix a lot of genres? What is your favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!

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