Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Laird by Juliana Garnett

Re-Reading Challenge: March 2009

(hosted by Nath – full details here)

Category: Romance – Historical (Middle Ages)

Series: No

She is the enemy of his clan, the friend of his foe, and the most beautiful prisoner he has ever seen. She is Judith Lindsay, the brazen young beauty who’s bound by blood and honor to her beloved England – even now, as she’s bound by her captors in the Campbell family’s keep. As future laird of this proud Scottish clan, Robert Campbell knows he should treat the Lindsay woman with contempt. The feud between their people has claimed the lives of his brothers. But when he sees the quiet strength in Judith’s soul – and the fire in her eyes – his heart must surrender to a very different battle.

Juliana Garnett was one of the first romance authors I read and I want to say upfront that her books are comfort reads for me. I try to be objective with this commentary, but if I sound a bit biased, well, at least you’ll know why.

The time is 1327; the setting is Scotland. Robert’s father, the laird of the Campbell clan, is preparing to ride out with seven of his eight sons on a kidnap mission at the command of his overlord, the craven Earl of Argyll. They succeed in abducting not only the five-year-old heiress of Clan Caddel, but her aunt, Lady Judith, as well. However, this feat does not come without a cost, for all seven of Robert’s brothers died that day.

So Robert, nicknamed the Devil’s Cub, bears the guilt and his father’s ire of being the only son (and not one of his favourites) left alive. His sorrow, anger and animosity towards his father are well portrayed. He is a strong and honorable man and a laird in his own right. Despite his sorrow and anger over the senseless death of his brothers, he tries to make the hostages comfortable and shield them from his father’s maddened grief. This is a man who wants to be a scholar instead of a warrior, but circumstances leave him with no choice but to fight.

Judith is a sensible and stoic woman. Widowed and childless at age twenty-six, this English gentlewoman is wanted by neither her late husband’s clan nor her own father. She makes the best of things and doesn’t hope for too much. When she is kidnapped with Mairi (the heiress) by those dastard Campbells, she is determined to protect Mairi at all costs. Robert’s unexpected humanity gives her hope that she and Mairi will be safe as long as he’s around.

What makes this book so good for me are definitely Robert and Judith. Despite an early attraction, their love for each other grows through daily interaction, sharing of thoughts and kind gestures. They haven’t known each other for very long before they fall in love – and this is what’s so compelling for me – they are tentative with those new powerful feelings, yet they are willing to go ahead to trust and love, especially Judith. Her love for Robert is so complete and unwavering, and that’s so beautiful to read.

Forming the backdrop to Robert and Judith’s love story is an account of life of that time – clan wars, political alliances, allegiances. The author did a great job making this aspect interesting and didn’t bog it down with too many details. I had enjoyed reading about the pillaging clans who would stand together against common enemies, but as soon as those enemies were vanquished, would immediately go back to the business of pillaging each other’s livestock, etc.

All in all, this is a well-rounded, well-told highland tale.

4 out of 5. I like it. It’s compelling, a page-turner. Sensuality: Subtle


nath said...

Hmmm, I've never heard of this author! and for some reason, I thought it'd be Natives, not Scotmen...

Poor Robert!! Sounds like a great book, Jace :)

Brandy said...

I don't believe I've ever heard of this author as well. It does sound like a well balanced and pleasing romance. Thanks for sharing your review!

Kristie (J) said...

Dang but what happened to her??? I have most of her books - this once included and love all of them. But it's been a few years now since she's had a new book. She did write under a different name before Julianna Garnett. I wonder is she is someone else now?
Now you have me wanting to do rereads of her books :)

Jace said...

Nath: I think Garnett isn't a widely-known author? She also writes under a host of other names - Virginia Brown, Michelle Brandon, Micki Brown, Juliana Garnett, Emma Harrington, Virginia Lynn ... wheeeew! All her Garnett books are Middle Ages stories and I simply love them! :D

Yes, this is a wonderful book and I'm so pleased to re-read it. Robert is an alpha-beta hero and he just tugs at the heartstrings. :)

Brandy: If your library has it, perhaps you'd like to try one of hers? If I'm not mistaken, she has 7 Middle Ages books out, and all of them are out-of-print.

Kristie: Hey, it's so nice to know you've read and loved her books too. :D She was mostly a low-profile author, and it's such a shame so few people had heard of her. I don't know if she's writing under (yet) another name now?

Anonymous said...

I've heard of Juliana Garnett but - as you know - it's only because of you. *g*

"they are tentative with those new powerful feelings, yet they are willing to go ahead to trust and love" - this makes me so want to read this novel!

This out-of-print business sucks big time.

Frances said...

Hi Jace! I love comfort reads too. I haven't heard of this author. I'll have to get my room mate (librian) to track her down. :-)

nath said...

Don't you hate it when an author writes under so many pen names? So hard to keep track!

Jace said...

Taja: Yes, OOP is a pain in the ass. :D

I really liked the romance in this one - it's sweet and moving. :)

Frances: Hi! It's always nice to see you here. :D Oh, you have a librarian for a room mate ... lucky you! I'm just imagining all those OOP books you have access too ... *drooling*

Nath: I've never read her other books. :D I know her first and foremost as Juliana Garnett. :D

Seneca said...

Wow, it sounds just my type of book. It's common plot theme for the medieval genre, but it works, and I like it.

Bookwormom said...

I've two others of hers in my TBR & they've been there for a long time. Maybe I need to put them more toward the top of the pile!


Jace said...

Seneca: Yes, this plot theme is common for Middle Ages stories, isn't it? :)

Amanda: I hope you'll enjoy her stories. :) I only have 3 of her books - The Vow, The Scotman and this one. :) I'm trying to find the rest.

Carolyn Jean said...

Ooh, a hostage drama! This sounds really fun. That is quite the cover, too!

Jace said...

I really like the cover too, CJ. :D And the story isn't too shabby either. ;)