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The Secret by Julie Garwood

The Secret

by Julie Garwood

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Highlands' Lairds (Apr 1992, book 1)

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1,462265,114 (4.04)28
  1. 00
    The Hepburn by Jan Westcott (myshelves)
    myshelves: Has plenty of romance, is set in 15th century Scotland, and also has a genuine historical background.

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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Julie Garwood has been a long-time favorite author for me. In fact, she was one of the very first mainstream romance authors whose work I ever read. For that reason, it’s always fun to revisit some of her books I’ve read in the past, as well as discover ones that are new to me. I believe The Secret falls into the latter category. Before picking it up, I honestly couldn’t recall if it was one that I’d read before or not, but after reading it, nothing about it seemed particularly familiar, other than Ms. Garwood’s trademark writing style and character archetypes. As with pretty much all of the author’s books I’ve read to date, The Secret has a gruff and rather stubborn alpha hero with a heart gold and a feisty heroine who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and who ultimately makes a big difference in her hero’s life. The story is fairly lighthearted with lots of humor, but still had enough emotional moments to keep me engaged throughout. Overall it was another fun foray into this beloved author’s work.

Judith is a young Englishwoman who had a rough life growing up. She lived with a loving aunt and uncle for her first four years, but after that was forced to spend six months every year with her mother, who couldn’t stand the sight of her and another uncle, who was a mean drunk. They told her that her father was dead and that her mother didn’t like having her around because Judith reminded her of her lost love. It wasn’t until many years later that Judith found out the truth that her father was indeed still alive and that he was a Scot. When Judith was only four years old, she attended a summer border festival with the good aunt and uncle, where she met Frances Catherine, a little Scottish girl of the same age. In their childish innocence, they didn’t know they were supposed to be enemies, so instead they became best friends. Frances Catherine’s mother and grandmother both died in childbirth, so when they reached adulthood, Judith promised that she would be by Frances Catherine’s side when the time came for her to give birth. She even spent as much time as she could secretly gaining information and training from midwives, so that she could be of help. When Frances Catherine’s brother-in-law comes to fetch Judith, she’s more than ready to go see her friend and provide comfort and assistance. She just didn’t expect to fall in love with the gruff warrior in the process and end up staying in the Highlands.

I really admired Judith for her outspokenness, which gains the respect of Iain and his men. More than one of them ends up sweet on her before the journey is over, and they only keep their distance out of respect for Iain, who they know is interested in her too. I also loved her ability to engender trust in the women of the clan, especially those who are about to give birth. Even though she thought she was only going to be with Frances Catherine in a support role and is completely freaked out when the other expectant women start coming to her instead of the nasty woman who is the clan midwife, she ends up bravely attending all of them during their labors. Judith also has a way of putting others at ease and making peace in the midst of conflict whenever possible. Nearly everyone ends up loving her, despite her being English, Iain, of course, most of all.

Iain became laird of his clan at a young age. He also raised his younger brother, Patrick, who is Frances Catherine’s husband, from the time he was just twelve. Together the two are inseparable and always have each other’s backs. That’s why when Patrick comes to him with his unusual request that an Englishwoman be allowed to visit to attend his wife during childbirth, Iain goes to bat for him with the council and then travels to England to bring her back. He’s instantly attracted to the feisty woman who has a backbone more like a Scot. He always swore he wouldn’t turn into a besotted idiot like his brother has, but the more time he spends with Judith, the more he can’t help himself. When he sees the ring Judith wears around her neck, one that she says belonged to her father, it’s familiar to him. And when he finally realizes it bears the mark of their chief rivals, the Macleans, and that Judith is their laird’s daughter, he knows he must marry her to protect her from them.

I liked Iain for being a strong leader and for his protectiveness toward Judith. He even agrees to her bizarre request on their wedding day that he never get drunk in front of her, which was sweet. I also liked that he respected her opinion on many matters and that he showed her how he felt about her even when he didn’t want to say the words. That said, though, Iain was perhaps just a tad too alpha for my taste. He’s more or less the typical, stubborn, clueless hero who doesn’t initially recognize his emotions for what they are, and it takes him a while to get around to telling Judith that he loves her, because he feels that it will make him weak. At his heart, though, I can’t deny that he’s a good man who treats her with kindness and respect, while protecting and keeping her safe, so I did like him quite a bit even though he won’t make the very top of my favorite romance heroes list due to his lack of vulnerability.

The Secret is the first book of Julie Garwood’s Highlands’ Lairds series. It contains quite a number of secondary characters. Patrick and Frances Catherine have their own sweet little romance going on in the background. Even though they’ve been married a while, it’s obvious they’re still crazy about each other. Iain’s men, as well as the elders of the council, all have their own unique personalities, which make the story more humorous, more exciting, more sexy (in some cases), pretty much more of everything. Of note among Iain’s men are the drop-dead gorgeous Ramsey and the adorable, funny, and also attractive Brodick, who had a major crush on Judith. It appears these two go on to become the co-heroes of the next book of the series, Ransom. Then there are the women of the clan, particularly Isabelle, the first expectant mother Judith delivers and Helen, the apprentice of the midwife from hell, whom Judith eventually wins over with her kindness. And these are just a few of the more notable characters. There are plenty more who play smaller but key roles. All of them and the storytelling came together to create a fun-filled, enjoyable, light-hearted read. A little more vulnerability for Iain and a little deeper characterizations for both him and Judith wouldn’t have gone amiss, but in the end, I decided to give The Secret keeper status after all. Since I very much liked both Ramsey and Brodick, I look forward to seeing what’s in store for them in the next book. ( )
  mom2lnb | Feb 21, 2017 |
The Secret
4 Stars

Lady Judith Hampton is more than willing to traverse the harsh highlands to keep a childhood promise to be with her best friend during childbirth. However, little has prepared her for the Scottish brute sent to escort her nor for the passion he evokes in her. As Judith and Iain, Laird of the Maitland clan grow closer, Judith fears that the secret of her parentage will ultimately drive them apart.

Engaging characters and a sweet romance with a hunky highlander.

I'm not usually a fan of plots with secrets as they tend to lead to silly and annoying conflicts. That said, the secret here is well done as it never becomes the focus of the story and is resolved in a timely fashion without becoming drawn out and frustrating.

The realistic portrayal of pregnancy and child birth in medieval times as well as the superstition surrounding them is very interesting although infuriating. Unfortunately, some of the other aspects of the setting are not as believable. The language and dialogue as well as some of the social mores are not consistent with the time period - no way would the Maitlands have overcome their prejudice against an English woman so quickly and the clan conflict is completely unrealistic - the 12th/13th century Scots were more a behead first and ask questions later type of people.

The romance is the best part of the book. Iain and Judith have some intense sexual chemistry that builds slowly toward the inevitable explosion and their sharp and witty banter is very entertaining. Judith is a spirited and feisty heroine with backbone of solid steel. Although her perfect beauty and saccharine sweet mannerisms are not that credible, these do not detract from her captivating personality. Iain is the typical strong/silent/arrogant warrior who falls for the only woman that stands up to him - of course, I can never get enough of these so it's all good.

The secondary characters are compelling, especially the elder council who provide some wonderful comic relief, and Broderik the brooding whose book I am looking forward to reading very soon. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Nov 19, 2016 |
This novel is a delightful escape, and a good read for both new and old Julie Garwood fans. Not her best, but definitely not her worst either. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
As soon as I started reading I was sucked right in and greedily devoured every word. The story was a wonderful romance with great friendships and humor. When Iain was going to ask Judith to marry was hysterical. He was thinking how he wanted the words to be something she would remember forever and I bet she will do just that! The words that ended up popping out of his mouth? "Judith, I'm keeping you." oh my god I burst out laughing when I read that it was so funny. Judith was an amazing character and I really loved Iain as well. I wish there was more! This is definitely a book I will end up re-reading. ( )
  SweetLiar | May 5, 2016 |
Loved it. ( )
  CrystalW | Dec 15, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Julie Garwoodprimary authorall editionscalculated
Duerden, SusanReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cindričová, MagdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Falkenstern, LisaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Plasait, CatherineTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tóth Gizella,secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, Kerstinsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They became friends before they were old enough to understand they were supposed to hate each other.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671744216, Mass Market Paperback)

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from 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, however, 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 spirited clash of 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!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:15 -0400)

Travelling back to Scotland to visit an old friend, Judith Hampton takes the opportunity to meet the father she has never known. Along the way, she falls in love with the Scottish laird Iain Maitland, who tries to shield Judith from the truth about her father, the Laird Maclean.… (more)

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