Reading is my favorite hobby, hands down. Books are love to me. I am an avid collector, and paper books will always edge out e-books with me.
Another book I thought I had read. Boy was I glad that I didn't. Read this for the Julie Garwood group read, and it was delightful. Julie Garwood books are definitely comfort reads. She understands why we read romance, and one of the reasons is we want heroines who we can root for, that we fall in love with just as much as the heroes. Her heroines have this tangible sweetness that makes me want to hug them, root for them, and to fight with and for them. Gillian is no different. My heart hurt for her losses and I cheered her for her indefatigable will. To be honest, I did think she was a slightly too good for Brodick, although I did like him. Maybe that's a good thing, because the common dilemma for a romance fan is to like the hero more.
I have read the other two Highland Laird books and loved them. I don't know how this fell through the cracks! But it was perfect timing, because you need a pick-me-up sometimes when you've been reading for so long, and some of it's assigned reading. I am a die-hard romance lover, and while I enjoy other genres, I always come back to romance because it has the tried and true things that satisfy me as a reader. In this case, it's the great heroine and the story that completely immerses me and takes me away from my world--back to medieval Scotland. The romance is great, but there's so much more in addition to offer in this book.
One of the things that spoke to me strongly was the theme of family and loyalty. Gillian has lost more of her family, but she cleaves to that which is left. She lived with the hope of being reunited with her sister. Her uncle who raised her after the betrayal and death of her father has her unswerving loyalty. She faces great danger to keep him safe from her so-called guardian Baron Alford, who is essentially the Son of Satan. That doesn't mean she won't spare the time to protect a young Scottish boy who was kidnapped by Baron Alford's forces, even at the risk of her own life. She does it for because it's right, even if it's a great cost to her. Fortunately, her good deed leads her right where she needs to be, and into the sights and arms of Brodick, Laird of the Buchanans.
Brodick doesn't know what hits him (not unusual for a Garwood heroine). Before he knows it, he can't live without Gillian, even though he knows from the beginning that she's bound to return to England. He fights his love for her because he believes love makes him weak. Although he hypocritically demands Gillian's love as his due. Brodick takes her into his clan literally, and gives Gillian the family she's missing.
Brodick was a pretty good hero. Not good enough for Gillian, but I liked him. I didn't like that he tended to usurp Gillian's self-will, both because he believes he knows better, and also for her protection. He knew that she needed a protector, but the lie he told was a costly one, nearly losing the love of his life in the process.
This book has almost two romances for the price of one. The second romance between Ramsey and Brigid was fun, and it develops more slowly than the one between Gillian and Brodick. Most of the characteristic humor is evident in their interactions, since Gillian's situation is so serious, it doesn't leave as much time for humor.
Not only was the romance good, but it had genuine suspense. Gillian is in some very dangerous situations, and she makes it through between a combination of divine providence, will power, and intelligence. She hasn't had an easy life, but it's made her into the wonderful heroine she is. One who can't help but acquire the loyalty of those around her.
I was more than satisfied with this book. It took me a while to read, but that's sort of my life now. But every time I picked it up, I was deeply involved and enthralled. This was a long book, but when it ended, I wished for more. I did feel disappointment with the resolution of Gillian's search for her sister, but that's real life. And at least she found a new sister in Brigid. I can't help but give it five stars under those circumstances. Even with my increasingly stingy ratings, I can't argue myself down from there.