Judith (Elizabeth) Hampton had made a promise to her dear Scottish friend, at the time of her child’s birth she would be at Francis Catherine’s side. Nothing would keep her from offering her support, not brooding lairds, and uncooperative councils, nor cruel uncles, especially not the biased hatred that existed between the English and Scottish. Her friend was her prominent reason, but another secret, private matter also motivated Judith, to go to the Highlands and learn about, and meet her father the Laird Maclean. However, she was unprepared for the sight of Laird Iain, the man who would escort her to Francis Catherine. He was powerful and compelling, and she couldn’t help but be intrigued. As Judith and Iain grow closer in trust and affection, surely nothing could separate them? Not even the truth about her father, a devastating, powerful secret. The Secret by Julie Garwood was a sizzling romance that drew me in head first, garnering laughter and a great deal of smiles.
Maybe some of you know already, others of you might not, this is my second review of a Julie Garwood book, the second of her books I have ever read. The first was The Bride and if you read the review you are most likely aware I was a little disappointed with The Bride, it was a fine novel, but didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The Secret outshone all the expectations I had, surpassing them exponentially. There are two probable reasons for this: it was just that much better, there were several characteristics about it that I just love more in general for the plot and romance, and the second: this being my second Garwood book I had shifted my expectations appropriately. If you haven’t read my review of The Bride, I suggest you do, it will offer a bit of background and insight into my thoughts on The Secret. But obviously it’s up to you.
The last two weeks I have been hit with the strong urge to saturate myself with historical romances. I’ve been in a mood, and they have been making me giggle and grin at the sweetness and unrealistically beautiful happy endings. After the disappointment of The Bride I decided to give Garwood another chance, I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Secret and I just love the Highlands, so I shrugged ‘why not’ and jumped in headfirst. I enjoyed the novel greatly, I found myself dutifully entertained and quite in love with our main cast. While I was more apathetic towards the main characters of The Bride. I adored the main protagonists Judith and Iain.
For me this book was so sweet, and funny, and enjoyable. There were several scenes where I laughed aloud, and when I say aloud I mean loudly and without control, or scenes where I couldn’t keep my face from stretching into a ridiculous grin. Anyone seeing me must have thought I was particularly insane this read. So if you give this book a chance, which I recommend you do, find somewhere secluded and private, where you can read in peace.
Something else that stuck me about this book was their romance. Iain and Judith’s relationship was more of a slow burn, a build up of attraction and affection, unlike the instantaneous stuff in The Bride. Judith grew to know Iain and trust him and ultimately fall in love with him. It wasn’t “damn he’s so sexy, let’s make passionate love despite the fact we just met” though their was a little of that, cause damn Iain was swoon worthy. Instead their was so much more to it than that, a more complicated realistic set of emotions that I was so appreciative of.
I loved Iain❤️! Oh what can’t I say about Iain. I think he has made it onto my list of fictional men I wish were real. While Alec (from The Bride) it felt more like she forced his arrogance to be tempered by a secret heart, Iain was a much smoother, stronger character. Who I actually swooned over, did I mention that yet? He has so much more of a charming heart than Alec. He was so honorable, and caring and, in true Garwood fashion, arrogant as hell, but his family was of the utmost importance, and logic could defeat his pride. I completely lost it when (*minor spoiler alert, since its a romance and we all saw this coming*) he proposed to Judith, it was hilarious and perfect and so Iain. The following marriage scene was also just too fun, I was giggling uncontrollably, it wasn’t over the top, but it was silly and delicious and completely outrageous, but just so perfect to the characters.
“Don’t you dare weep,” he commanded.
“You’ve broken my heart.”
“I’ll fix it later.”
In The Bride I enjoyed Jamie well enough but she wasn’t one of those protagonist I particularly connected with, or grew emotional attached to. With Judith I fell in love with her in the Prologue. A few pages was all it took, she was beautiful, proud, and bold. Unafraid of what she wanted and what she thought was right. Everything she did was purposeful, and she was so loyal to her friends and those she loved. How could I not love her? Watching as stubborn Iain fell in love with her despite himself was a joy. Her defiance and kind, unwavering heart, it was easy to see how the two came to love each other. Not only that, she was sassy, outspoken, brave and smart- all my favorite characteristics. Sass is definitely a default in my family. She was stubborn as an ox and it worked meeting up and challenging Iain’s arrogance. She never picked a fight without a good reasons, and wasn’t afraid of making a fool of herself to soothe others pride and help others. She selflessly puts aside her overwhelming fear to help the women with their birthing, and then weeps heavily afterwards. I adored her.
The prologue was adorable, and funny and just unbelievable sweet, watching Judith and Frances Catherine, meet and become friends was a treat. They were so fun together, and the trouble they got in was simply too much. Their relationship was just an extra bonus on an already great romance novel.
“Papa, do you like my new friend?” Frances Catherine asked when they were halfway across the field.
“I surely do.”
“Can I keep her?”
“For the love of…No, you can’t keep her. She isn’t a puppy. You can be her friend, though,” he hastily added before his daughter could argue with him.
This novel compared to The Bride also had a lovelier cast of side characters. I loved the side characters. Broderick was so stoic and cold and his relationship with Iain was down right hilarious. He probably got me to laugh more than I would like to admit. Patrick and Francis Catherine were so sweet, and their love was so cute and pure and dear. Francis Catherine’s birthing scene was too fun, the way the two interacted together. Instead of this just being some romance with just the main character’s relationship we also saw Judith meet Isabella and Helen. Saw them grow close and form bonds. She had better interactions with the people of the clan and more believable relationships and earning of their respect and loyalty.
Weird note of contention: Since writing The Bride Garwood seems to have discovered the word erotic. Which is fine, but I feel like it’s a word that shouldn’t be over used since its pretty bold and catches the readers attention. But that’s just my humble opinion and not any real problem.
Parental rating: 18 and up for sex scenes only.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Something that made this novel go up several notches in my mind was the fact, they didn’t have sex right away, that that moment was saved for further in the book when you had become invested in the relationship, and the tension.
The Secret was a lovely historical romance, that caught me up, and got me invested in the delightful main characters. Please leave your opinion and thoughts on The Secret in the comments below. Feel free to ask questions about the novel or offer a differing opinion. If you are interested in romance purchase a copy of this fabulous novel, here. If you enjoyed this review read my others, here.