March 14, 2021 04:06 PM Posted by juliannadouglas
I read half a dozen books during the month of February, but out of those, only one romance rose to the five-star level for me to feature it here. It was written by an author who’s been on my favorites list for over two decades, but who, oddly enough, I have not featured before. It’s a pirate-y, historical, Regency-era romantic comedy about Nathan and Sara, who were married as children, a command that was handed down by the king, himself, as a way to bring peace between their families who’ve been at odds since the medieval era. Nathan was only fourteen at the time, and Sara a mere four years old. Their wedding is shown in the prologue and their first meeting is adorably sweet with little Sara placing her full trust in Nathan even then. Since then, they’ve lived separate lives, but Sara has dreamed of the day that Nathan will come to whisk her away. Needing the money that fulfilling the marriage contract will eventually bring him, Nathan finally shows up fourteen years later, intending to collect his bride and do just that, but with no designs on falling in love. However, Sara confounds him at every turn with her sweet, generous spirit and annoys the hell out of him when she brings one calamity after another upon his ship. But soon, he can no longer imagine his life without her, even though the word “love” isn’t exactly in his vocabulary.
Sara is a naive, idealistic dreamer and a hopeless romantic who has built up the husband she hasn’t seen since their wedding day into the perfect fairy tale prince. When her uncle and his brothers try to have her beloved Aunt Nora committed to an asylum in order to steal her money, Sara writes, asking for Nathan’s help. What she doesn’t know, though, is that her missives went astray, so when he doesn’t come, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Sneaking out late at night, she walks the few blocks to her uncle’s town house where Nora is being held captive and frees her, but little does she know that her husband coincidentally showed up anyway and protected her all along the way. When she goes to a tavern to confront her uncle and get Nora’s wedding ring back, then she finally meets her huge, handsome spouse, who once again saves her and takes her aboard his ship. At first, she’s a little afraid of him, but she gradually comes to realize that he’d never hurt her even though he frequently bellows at her for the wacky things that she does. Sara is one of the sweetest, most innocent and guileless heroines I believe I’ve ever read. She’s also a walking calamity who nearly destroys Nathan’s ship on more than one occasion, even driving his crew to wear garlic to ward off the bad luck she brings. But underneath it all, she has a genuinely good heart, comes to deeply love and have absolute trust in Nathan pretty quickly, and is loyal to a fault, defending him even when he irritates her. She’s quite protective of those she loves and that comes to include Nathan. Although extremely shy on their “wedding night,” once sexually awakened, she becomes a very responsive lover and is quite demonstrative of her love in more ways than one.
Nathan lost his parents at a young age and became responsible for his younger sister. Although a marquess, he’s spent most of the intervening years since marrying Sara as a pirate and spy for the crown. With the bounty on his pirate persona growing larger by the day, he decides it’s time to go straight and start a legitimate shipping company. In order to build it up, though, he needs more money. The marriage contract includes a gift of land and gold after Nathan has spent one year living as husband and wife with Sara and producing an heir, so he decides to finally go claim her. Most of the Winchester women are plain and plump, and the clan in general are pretty ill-tempered, so he doesn’t expect much, leaving him pleasantly surprised to discover that Sara is quite comely and pretty sweet-tempered, if a bit stubborn. Even though she seems to cause one catastrophe after another that tries his patience, her frequent tears and heartfelt apologies make it impossible for him to stay mad at her for long. Although he doesn’t recognize his emotions as love, the kind and gentle way he always treats her and his growing inability to imagine life without her make his feelings abundantly clear even if it takes him a while to admit it both to himself and to her. Even though Nathan can play the growly alpha, he never annoyed me. I loved him to pieces and found him nearly as amusing as Sara.
I first read this book, probably more than twenty years ago. Even though I had vague recollections of enjoying it before, this revisit exceeded my expectations. I’m very particular about rom-coms, often finding them too shallow or not as humorous as they’re supposed to be, but this one tickled my funny bone just right. I think I spent the entire time I read it with a goofy grin on my face, if not outright laughing. It’s a little slap-sticky, but it totally worked for me. I can’t recall when I’ve read a more hilarious book. Yet, interspersed with all the fun and games was a sweet, tender love story that gave me all the feels that I expect in a romance. It was completely apparent from their adorable first meeting in the prologue that these two were star-crossed loves meant for each other. I love Sara’s complete faith and trust in Nathan even when he stubbornly refuses to tell her he loves her. Nathan may be a little rough around the edges, but he has a good heart, expressing his love in his own sweet way, through his kindness, gentleness, and protectiveness. I can hardly express how much fun I had rereading this book. That’s why I’m naming Julie Garwood’s The Gift as my February Book of the Month. If you enjoy the alpha with a heart of gold paired with a sweet, innocent heroine in a LOL funny story combined with a passionate, heartfelt romance, then you should definitely give this book a try. Keep reading to learn how you can win a copy for your own library.
Nathan had never bared his soul to any woman, but he was soon utterly beguiled and exasperated by Sara's sweet, defiant ways. Aboard his ship, the Seahawk, she was brave, imperious and determined to win his heart completely—yet upon their return to England, her love would be sorely tested as a vile conspiracy tried to tear them apart. With their future at stake, they would discover the true destiny of their passion...for all time!
Read my complete review of The Gift.
If you would like to win a copy of The Gift to see how wonderful it is for yourself, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. One lucky winner will receive their choice of an eBook or print copy of the book. If the winner chooses an eBook, I will gift it to them via the eBook retailer of their choice (Amazon or B & N). If the winner chooses a print copy, I will have it mailed directly to them via Amazon. Good luck!
International Entrants: You are welcome to enter my contest, but please note that not all eBooks are available in all countries due to copyright restrictions. If this is the case, Amazon does offer an option to trade for a gift card (I'm not sure about B & N). If you choose print, I can mail it to you via the Amazon website that services your country, pending availability and cost. Otherwise I will mail it to you via U. S. Amazon's standard international shipping, but it may take up to 6-8 weeks to arrive, and I may not have the capability of tracking the package.
Tags: Julie Garwood