The Bride, by Julie Garwood
Some of you may remember that I had an ambitious (for me) TBR list that included two SRS books, and The Hunger Games. It will surprise none of you that I made it through The Hunger Games before I decided that was enough heavy shit and people dying. I decided it was time for some lighter fare, or at least a book that didn’t prominently involve death. Enter The Bride by Julie Garwood and its 172 5-star reviews on Amazon. Because apparently the fanatically positive reviews for Sherrilyn Kenyon have taught me nothing.
The Bride is a Highlander romance, in which a bonny and spirited English lass is wed to a menacing Highland laird and they learn to love each other in spite of their cultural differences, usually through nonstop newlywed fucking. Handy that kilts provide such easy access! That reminds me - there will be at least one joke about Scottish lairds being naked under their kilts.
So anyways, the Bonny and Spirited English Lass (TM) in this situation is Jamie. Oh, we’re going to have a little chat about Jamie. Garwood apparently couldn’t settle for just one Spirited English Lass (TM) cliche, so she went for them all. Here’s a list of facts about Jamie:
- She can read and write
- She speaks perfect Gaelic
- She is an expert physician (the kind who can heal otherwise-fatal wounds with a few crushed leaves and a tincture)
- She can shoot a bow and arrow with incredible accuracy
- She can throw a knife with incredible accuracy
- She rides her spirited horse bareback, with incredible skill
- Her riding skills are so incredible that she frequently stands up while riding her spirited horse bareback
- She can instantly charm even the most stubborn Scottish soldier
- She is constantly saving small children
- She is constantly being saved by her laird husband
- She is flawlessly beautiful (violet eyes, streaming raven hair, etc)
- She single-handedly unites the Highland clans
- I kind of want to punch Jamie by now, don’t you?
She has a couple of token flaws: she has a poor sense of direction, and she’s an insufferable know-it-all (Garwood may not have intended that reaction, now that I think about it). Still, she’s doing pretty good for a woman in 1100! I know suspension of disbelief is important for all novels, but at this point I think the time-traveling nurse from Outlander is a more realistic.
Her Highland Laird is Alec. Here’s a few facts about Alec:
- He is very big
- He wears kilts
- He gets angry a lot
In the beginning, I was having a lot of fun. Alec and Jamie meet and get married and journey to Scotland, and it’s pretty good! The sex gets going early in the book (Alec sees Jamie bathing, which happens so frequently in romance novels I’m starting to think authors have Frequent Plot Device cards and are cashing in on hotels stays and discounted flights somewhere), and their sparring is fun, if not terribly inventive.
Then they get to Scotland, and the whole book turns into a mess. I should have known it was coming. It was like going out on a bad date. You know the signs. The dude might order a Zima, or casually mention Ayn Rand. But you don’t REALLY know what you’ve gotten yourself into until you find yourself listening to him tell an obviously-exaggerated story about his spring break trip to Gulf Shores with his main brahs.
The story gets to be episodic and kind of boring. In one day, Jamie is chased down by a wild boar, saves a small child, is almost burned alive in a cottage (somebody wants her dead or something I don’t even care at this point), and she probably starts a war or whatever (she’s always starting wars). And yeah, that’s STILL boring. There’s too many characters, I kept losing track of the action, and by the end, I started flirting with the other books on my Kindle.
I have to say, it wasn’t unpleasant. There were a lot of redeeming moments throughout the book, and I even laughed out loud a few times. That said, there are so many talented romance novelists writing great books right now, and you don’t have to spend your time and money on a book that’s “not unpleasant.”
Go check out Braveheart or Outlander if you need a kilt fix. I’d skip this.