Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: The Secret by Julie Garwood

Pages: 379
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: May 1, 1992
Publisher: Pocket
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud, as purposeful as she was loyal. The dear Scottish friend of her 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 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 clash of spirited 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!"

Judith Hampton first met Frances Catherine Kirkaldy at a summer festival at the border of England and Scotland when they were children. Judith is from England and Frances Catherine is from Scotland, but that didn't stop them from becoming fast friends.  Fast forward to adulthood and Judith has promised Frances that she would attend the birth of her first child. This is the 12th century and having babies is very dangerous.  But Judith is also going, because she is intrigued by her heritage as her father is the Laird Maclean, but this is a secret she has kept for years. She has never even met her father! While traveling to Scotland, Frances Catherine has a group escort her to the Highlands. Enter Laird Iain Maitland, who is one of her travel companions and also happens to be Frances Catherine's brother in law. The two definitely have sparks between them, but are both extremely willful and very different. Once Judith arrives at Frances Catherine's house, she finds out more about her situation. Frances Catherine still feels like an outsider amongst clan members and this is confusing to Judith. To make matters worse, the midwife in the town is the absolute worst. Nonetheless, Judith promises to help Frances Catherine with the birth of her child as she has studied up with another midwife prior to her trip to the Highlands.  Julie Garwood's historical romance, The Secret, is a nice escape for those who enjoy this genre as well as a Scottish setting.

One of the main things that I liked about The Secret was the strong friendship between Judith and Frances Catherine.  It was from childhood and spanned many years. I love a loyal female friendship and one that isn't toxic in anyway.  Even though Judith is well-off in England and France Catherine is, well, the opposite, it didn't deter their friendship in the least.  Once France Catherine is pregnant, she has her husband, Patrick, approach the council to ask permission to allow Judith to come from England. Frances Catherine's mother and her grandmother both died in childbirth and she wants support during the process and not the vile midwife from the village.  Friendship goals for sure. Plus, they know each other's deepest secrets (some that are truly life-altering if revealed), hence, the title of the book, but they never break each other's trust.

The setting of The Secret was great. Who doesn't love Scotland? While I am not sure it was entirely historically accurate, I could still appreciate it.  Garwood's descriptions of childbirth during this time period were eye-opening, especially with how the church got involved. Craziness!

The romance in The Secret was decent, although I was expecting a more swoon worthy love interest in Iain. I found him to be annoying at times with telling her what to do and how to think. I get this is part of the time period, but it got frustrating.  One thing I did appreciate is the fact that Judith never really listened to him.  Thank God. I didn't think the romance was too much like a "bodice ripper" romance novel (which I admit at first I was expecting), so I was pleasantly surprised by this as the traditional romance genre really isn't usually my favorite.

I'm glad I finally gave Julie Garwood's The Secret a try as I know she is a favorite of many historical romance readers. I definitely want to check out the other books in the Highlands' Lairds series, especially when I am looking to escape and read something light. 

Let me know if you have a favorite Garwood novel and which one I should read next!

*** The Kindle e-book version of The Secret is on sale for $1.99, which is a total steal! If you are like me and have been wanting to read Garwood for years, now is your chance to get it at a sale price!


  1. Aside from the stuff about Iain this sounds fascinating! I don't think I've read anything by Garwood yet. The time period is really interesting and I like that it features such a strong and prominent friendship even if the romance could be better. Great review!

    1. I think you'd like it, Christina, if you wanted something a bit fluffier! It was definitely a fun escape. I think I will check out the other books in the series. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

  2. I really enjoyed your review! In looking at other book reviews it compared this book to others that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE! So, I thought hmmm let's check this book out. To my surprise, it says I already owned this book & that I purchased it in 2017. NONE of the summaries sounded familiar to me. So, I looked for a more "in depth" review. Hence, how I ended up here. Idk if you are still active & review books, or if you are still checking this post. But just wanted to let you know, I enjoyed your review & will look for more reviews! Thanks! ❤️


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