TBR Challenge May 2012
Wendy the Super Librarian] is to read an old-school romance, published prior to 2000, from your TBR pile. Since I only started reading romance in 2006, I don't have many books that fit the 'old-school' criteria. However, thanks to some romance reading friends who have passed old school romances on to me [Mariana, Hilcia and Phyl], I do have a small handful. I believe I can thank Hilcia for this one? Anyway, when I saw Saving Grace by Julie Garwood among my TBR books, I knew right away it was just what I was in the mood for --a classic medieval romance and that's just what I got.
Saving Grace takes place in early 13th century England and Scotland--but mostly in Scotland. Lady Johanna was married off to the ruthless and greedy Baron Raulf when she was just a young girl. A favorite pawn of the wicked King John, her husband abused her in this loveless marriage, leaving Johanna wishing never to marry again upon his death when she is widowed at just sixteen years old. A few years later her adoptive brother, Baron Nicholas, convinces her to marry his friend, Gabriel MacBain, the Scottish warrior who is laird of the MacBain and Maclaurin clans. Not only is MacBain her only chance of safety, but perhaps even a morsel of happiness. More than that, the marriage also serves as a political move to keep the lands Johanna inherited from going to the evil English Barons under King John's rule and saves her from being married off by the King to another wicked Baron. It also puts Johanna under the protection of this strong Scottish clan since she happens to know of some incriminating evidence against the King.
So Johanna marries Gabriel MacBain and lives in this castle nestled in the Scottish Highlands, where the language and customs are so different from that of England--including her duties as wife to the larger-than-life Laird MacBain. He wishes for her to stay put in the castle and sew in front of the fire. She wishes to work the land, ride horses, practice her bow and arrow and make friends with the men and women of the MacBain and Maclaurin clans. It's a rocky road for this couple, and a lot is going on between them and the extensive but manageable cast of secondary characters, but in between exasperating discussions a few arguments and plenty of humorous missteps--usually on Johanna's part, they manage to make it work. Not only do they make their marriage work, but they both end up surprised to have found true love along the way. On this path to true love, Johanna learns that her new husband is fiercely loyal to and protective of those in his care and underneath his gruff exterior, he is a tender, patient man. As bits of Johanna's previous marriage to Baron Raulf and the absurd teachings of the Baron's Priest are revealed, Gabriel learns why Johanna is so timid and even a bit fearful of him. He also comes to know and respect the strong, independent woman who's breaking out of her shell and trying to live true to herself. So a lot of individual character growth going on amidst the growth of their love for each other.
Saving Grace is the third medieval romance I've read by Julie Garwood and I have to say each one has been an absolute delight to read. Garwood's writing is solid, the true history and politics of the time period are realistically woven into the story line ... and the love stories? Utterly romantic.
Saving Grace gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me.
In the past year, I have read Garwood's The Bride, The Wedding and now Saving Grace. I can't wait to read more!
What's your favorite medieval romance by Julie Garwood?
Favorite medieval romance by another author?
You can visit author Julie Garwood at her website http://www.juliegarwood.com/.