Harlequin Historical May 2010
288 pages By Blythe Gifford
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
Gavin Fitzjohn is the bastard son of an English prince and a Scotswoman. A rebel without a country, he has darkness in his soul.
Clare Carr, daughter of a Scottish border lord, can recite the laws of chivalry, and knows Gavin has broken every one.
Clare is gripped by desire for this royal rogue— could he be the one to unleash everything she has tried so hard to hide? These persuasive urges have stayed safely dormant—until now….
Ever see 'The Long, Hot Summer'? A 1958 movie starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, based on the 1940 William Faulkner novel 'The Hamlet'?
How can I say this, I have read romance novels that remind me of old movies and such, I even smiled at the tip of the cap toward a beloved movie scene or character. But wow, this book was Faulkner's story all over. Instead of Paul Newman being called 'Barn Burner', our hero in this book is called 'Fire-raiser.' And there are entire scenes lifted from the movie/book as such, it got so I was picturing Paul Newman through this whole book, especially when Gavin's blue eyes were described as clear as the sky. Yep, Paul. Now, this is not a bad thing, not at all. I am not slamming the author. Far from it. Writers certainly get inspiration from past works, heck, I do.
But instead of Mississippi, this takes place in Medieval Scotland, Gavin Fitzjohn is an outcast, accused of a heinous crime he did not commit, hence the 'fire-raiser' moniker. He meets Clare Carr, and immediately they butt heads, but under that, is an underlying passion that fairly sizzles. Like the movie, Clare has a simpering, effeminate suitor, one she hopes will take her away to France and the overbearing rule of her father.
Her father however, has other plans, he wants grandchildren, a strong man to take over the guarding of Carr's Tower at the Scottish border. He sees Gavin Fitzjohn as that man. Clare is not impressed. Gavin could be a traitor, he is half-English, nephew to King Edward.
While Gavin and Clare are at loggerheads, one thing brings them together, their love of Falconry. It is apparent Blythe did her homework here, I was completely caught up in the training and hunting skills of these birds. And I loved the sexual overtones the both used toward each other when talking 'Falcon speak' as it were.
GAVIN: "Let me teach you to soar as you were meant to. I can teach you to fly faster, Higher...further."
Yow. Gavin is very appealing. But, he has his dark, tortured past, and this keeps Clare from trusting him completely, much to Gavin's hidden heartbreak.
An example of the Long, Hot Summer: (from the movie script)
You look mighty young there, Miss Clara, all curled up in your bed...
like you just washed your hands and brushed your teeth...
and said your prayers like a little girl.
I'll bet you was a mighty appealin' little girl.
I'll bet you knew where to look for robins' eggs and blackberries.
SCENE in HIS BORDER BRIDE:
You look pretty sitting there, like a wee lassie ready to say her prayers, and drift off to sleep without a care in the world. You should be happy and carefree as you
were when you were a little girl with nothing to worry about but lookin' for robin's eggs.
See? Wow. And there are a couple more examples, but as I said, I am not slamming the author. Did it detract from the enjoyment of this book? Not really. But at times to me, it was distracting, as I kept picturing Paul Newman from the movie. A very minor point.
Back to the book, Gavin and Clare are finally married, it is a bumpy ride, Gavin with his hidden insecurity about his past and identity, And Clare with her own doubts about Gavin's loyalty. Both are complex characters, richly drawn, though at times Clare's stubborn hard-headedness was infuriating at times. However, ultimately, they get to their HEA, and it was a fascinating ride. Adventurous and sensuous, what more would you want in a Historical?
3 and 1/4 stars out of 4 for the book
KOVER KUDOS: I love this cover, we see both the hero and heroine, both are similar in looks as described in the book, wonderful, sensuous pose, lush colors. Great job, Harlequin!
4 out of 4 stars for the cover