Yet again I warn you that in the Plot area I give spoilers. This is my second review and I hope you guys enjoy it and keep coming back for more.
Title: The Bride – Not a bad title. This story is essentially about a bride and she is the focal point of the plot. Not only does the bride happen to be a character but she is also the cause of many of the book’s events.
Author: Julie Garwood – I don’t really have any snark for that except Garwood makes me think of a good fishing spot in a swamp. Get it? Gar. Wood… In about half an hour that will be hilarious.
Cover: Very simple and pretty. White with pretty gold lettering, border, and a center design of a few medieval musical instruments. I’m guessing they belong to the wedding band? That part kind of threw me… Not sure what the instruments are doing there when I don’t think an instrument was ever even mentioned. Still, no oiled up beefcake so I’m not going to snark too bad.
Summary/ Back Cover: Second verse same as the first with more text and less pictures. White background, some nice author worship, and the summary.
“By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison…a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her…forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian.
He was everything her heart warned against—an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And thought Kincaid’s scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him…until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses…”
I happen to be a huge ellipsis fan so this summary made me happy since the grammatical device was used four times. This barely even touched on the plot outside of romantic development, though, which is kind of a shame. I read this and I thought it was going to be a bunch of relationship drama and loads of unresolved sexual tension. Not quite the case. This managed to get my attention but it didn’t give the details that would properly identify the story within.
Plot: WARNING: Spoilers!
The prologue takes place at the funeral of the hero’s (Alec Kincaid) first wife, Helena. She’s being buried on unconsecrated ground due to the fact that her death has been reported a suicide. This kind of sin has brought shame onto the Kincaid name and does not make Alec look like a very nice guy.
But then the murderer of Helena, who remains anonymous, has a lovely little inner dialogue about how awesome killing is although it was a pain in the ass that Helena took a few days to kick it after breaking her spine. You’d think she’d be considerate enough to die on impact after being pushed off a cliff. Jeez… rude. Anyway the secret villain is wringing their hands in malicious glee at Alec’s manly tears and trying not to laugh or brag because you just don’t do that at funerals.
We move on to the home of Baron Jamison where three of his daughters are freaking out and driving the Baron nuts. They’ve gotten word that dear old dad owes the English king taxes and as punishment one of his little angels will have to do the unthinkable… Marry a Scotsman! (Dun dun duuuuuun)
The Scottish fellow in question is Alec, who is rumored to have killed his first wife and apparently is Scottish. I know! Awful, right? Being Scottish. Terrible. The girls are in hysterics at the prospect of becoming the bad man’s bride and daddy dearest is not helping by losing his temper. He calls in for back up.
Jamie is the baron’s youngest daughter (actually his step-daughter) and pretty much runs the house. She’s also dad’s favorite because she’s a doormat. He treats her like a personal servant without her questioning it because he took her in even after her mother died. She’s the only one with half a brain in the family and is able to calm her sisters down.
It becomes clear that Jamie is off the market because daddy accepted a dowry for her from some loser named Andrew and that the baron really needs an accountant and some self-control. Her sisters are whiny drama queens that depend on her just as much as their father, making for a backwards family dynamic.
Jamie goes to talk to the only other character in the household with any intelligence, the stable master named Beak, who thinks of her as his own daughter and doesn’t take any crap. He’s Scottish, and sees great potential in Jamie getting a chance at a life of happiness with a Highland husband. When the two lairds arrive, Alec and his good friend Daniel, he sees a golden opportunity.
Since the two warriors arrived early, Beak is able to intercept them and tell them that the baron is hiding his most worthy daughter from them. They are nearly caught by Jamie and her sister, Mary, coming into the barn but the big guys use ninja skills to hide and listen in.
The girls have a talk with Beak about a few of the things they’ve heard about Scotts and are pretty blunt and offensive in their questions and teasing. That doesn’t deter the fellows from being won over and they go to their future father-in-law and demand their brides of choice.
Alec gets Jamie and Daniel gets Mary and no one is all too thrilled about who they are marrying. Still, everyone is doing their duty to their kings and so a Vegas double wedding takes place and they set off toward Scotland the same day they are wed. The honeymoon is the trip home, I guess.
Jamie is curious about her husband and willing to do her best to be a proper wife but Alec strikes her as rough around the edges. Daniel is the nicer of the two lairds and probably regrets his bride choice since Mary seems to have only two settings: Crying and bitching.
As they reach the border a gang of English scoundrels move in to try and best the travellers and make off with their women. Alec and Daniel make their wives stay on the sidelines against a boulder while they make quick work of their opponents but a sneak attack by a hidden gang member puts the lasses in peril.
Mary handles the turn of events by using her younger sister as a meat shield from the bad men while Jamie whips out a dagger to protect them. Girl power! She has to use it, too, and ends up killing a guy by throwing her blade into the neck of one of her attackers.
Still, wily as she is she winds up in distress, held hostage by the last bastard standing. He doesn’t last long, but long enough for Alec to make it seem like he likes Jamie’s horse more than her. Not cool. She doesn’t take it too well and hangs onto her anger well after they get back into the Highlands and set up camp.
Daniel is pretty pissed at his sucky new wife for being a coward and a brat and they camp farther off for privacy. Meanwhile Alec thinks Jamie is cool beans, even if she has the unfortunate quirk of being English. They banter for a while and he gets her hot and they have sex. Kind of abrupt but okay… Moving on.
Daniel and Mary leave to go home through Daniel’s lands and Alec lets Jamie sleep off her lust hangover before they take off for Kincaid lands. Along the way they encounter some allies and Alec makes Jamie think that he doesn’t desire her by not introducing her to his friends. He has to clear it up by explaining that if he had one of his allies would probably try to take her from him. With friends like that who needs enemies, right?
Finally they get home and Jamie gets a frosty welcome from her new family because she has a bad case of being English(itis). Alec tell the kids to play nice with their new mommy but they don’t wanna. They liked their old mommy. Even though it’s been three years people are still smarting from the loss of their first Lady Kincaid.
Jamie winds up proving herself by using her medical knowledge that her mom taught her to save a wounded soldier that the clan had pretty much written off for dead. He had a broken arm and a big cut on his chest… somehow this translated to doomed. She also heals the resident priest of a bad cough and earns almost everyone’s loyalty. Helena’s family isn’t as easy of a sell but Jamie knows she’ll win them over eventually.
As she becomes acquainted with her new digs and husband an attempt on her life is made and Alec flips out because he actually likes his new toy… A lot. Which is bad because love is a distraction and crap like that. It’s funny that the two of them are growing fond of each other when it seems like every conversation they have ends with one of them getting pissed off. They still have sex, though. Yaaay sex!
Lord Kincaid puts his lady love under the watch of his most loyal clansmen (lovable rake, Gavin and stoic relative of Helena, Marcus) while he tries to solve the mystery of who is after his wife. When he goes off on his rounds for a few days Jamie manages to shake things up and starts a few wars. I’m not kidding… She manages to start wars. As in plural. Pretty much if Alec is busy she stirs up trouble and decorates.
I wont go into the details of how all this came to be because most of it is so funny you need to read it for yourself. In one of these instances she comes back home with Alec’s stepdaughter (Helena’s daughter) named Mary Kathleen and she promptly takes over being her new mom. That part of the story isn’t so much funny as it is sad but still too good to spoil.
So Jamie has caused enough trouble that the Scottish king Edgar has to step in because he’s a hands on kind of ruler. Lady Kincaid is understandably a nervous wreck at the idea of a royal visit, convinced she’s screwed. More hilarity ensues and she winds up having a nervous breakdown on one of the guests that arrive, spilling her guts on how bad she’s screwed up. Turns out the guest is the king himself and he thinks Jamie is just precious.
She’s forgiven for being a spazz and all seems well. Then on a visit to Helena’s grave she and Gavin are struck down by Helena’s killer but luckily saved. The murderer is unearthed as… I’m so not going to tell because it threw me for a complete loop. I refuse to spoil it because it is just too rich. Just know the murderer is dealt with.
THEN Jamie nearly starts another war when her old pal Andrew comes to collect the bride he paid for. She tries to head him off herself but Alec catches up and they go to deal with it together… Plus every warrior or every clan in Scotland, give or take a few.
Andrew, who brought a small army of his own, is abandoned by his men and gets precious gems pelted at him to compensate for the dowry he paid for Jamie. And the day is saved! Apparently on top of involuntarily starting wars Jamie also managed to unite the clans of Scotland and earn the love of her husband (whom she loves in return).
I know I left a lot out but HOLY CRAP there is a boatload of story to tell and I had to go with the basic of the basic. Trust me, there is tons more to all this and it’s a billion times more interesting: I just tried to keep it short.
Believe It Or Not: Jamie and Alec were believable characters and their romance was pretty genuine. They were attracted to each other but not in love until they had to do the work. The unification of Scotland by one woman is a bit more difficult to swallow… Especially since she was English.
Setting: The Highlands and England… Again I’m not too well-read on this time frame to know the ins and out of daily life and fashion etc. No cell phones or cars yet again so I buy it.
Sensuality: I was a bit disappointed by the sex because it was so abrupt. The first sex scene came early (haha) in the story and the rest of it was punctuated by love scenes. None of them were exceptionally hot but whatever. I didn’t pick up the book to read about getting it on (mostly). The real spark came from the banter between Alec and Jamie. They were both armed with sharp-tongues and clever wit.
Hero: Alec was cool. He treated Jamie well and had a good heart and a bad temper. I liked that he promised Jamie he’d never hurt her and stuck to it. Still, for a badass he let her get away with a LOT of crap. He didn’t like it but he dealt with it all the same while trying to appear in charge. He felt sort of bland to me which is sad because I really wanted to like him more.
Heroine: Jamie is a trip. I loved her because she was just so funny. She was innocent and tried so hard to make everyone happy while still sticking up for herself. She was intent on solving every problem by herself and just wound up taking the world on her shoulders until Alec interfered. Plus she was a total spitfire. I wasn’t too fond of how she skirted the line to being a Mary Sue with her abilities to hunt, ride bareback, speak Gaelic, heal, and win people over in less than a day but I was able to forgive her for it because she still managed to have faults.
Themes: Historical, Beauty and the Beast, Highlands
Length: 358 pages. A good length and I’m still kind of surprised that all that story fit into so few pages.
Overall: Overall I found this enjoyable. I liked the humor and the characters. The mystery of who killed Helena could’ve been played up a bit more but I was completely surprised by who the killer was. The romance was a bit fast but also realistic and there were so many things to keep me entertained. I am willing to recommend this book to anyone interested.
(The image used is from amazon.com. I take no credit for the book or the image, just the review. )