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The Secret

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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 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 spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith revelled 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.


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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 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 spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith revelled 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.

30 review for The Secret

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica's Totally Over The Top Book Obsession

    The Secret, the 1st book in the Highlands' Lairds series, is now tied as my favorite Julie Garwood book with The Bride. I loved this one so much. It starts out so cute with two little girls, one Scottish, on English becoming friends. Judith and Frances Catherine were just so damn cute. Their friendship was like icing on the cake for me. I loved Iain. He was perfect. He just had so much more charm than other JG heroes I have read. I also really loved Judith. I loved that she was sassy, outspoken The Secret, the 1st book in the Highlands' Lairds series, is now tied as my favorite Julie Garwood book with The Bride. I loved this one so much. It starts out so cute with two little girls, one Scottish, on English becoming friends. Judith and Frances Catherine were just so damn cute. Their friendship was like icing on the cake for me. I loved Iain. He was perfect. He just had so much more charm than other JG heroes I have read. I also really loved Judith. I loved that she was sassy, outspoken and brave. I thought Judith and Iain had a sweet relationship filled with passion. I also really liked the secondary characters a lot too. Especially Brodick. I laughed a lot while reading this book. It's one of those sweet feel good reads.

  2. 4 out of 5

    EmBibliophile

    Reread #2 (3/20/2021) This book still has the best female friendship ever! The wedding scene was hilarious. Iain and Judith are the best and I love them so much. The plot is perfect and I enjoyed the underlying feminism subplot in it. It was all just so good and so entertaining and I’m pretty sure I’ll reread it and enjoy it many times again! Definitely one of my all time favourite HRs!! 5 stars Now there’s something worth mentioning about this book, male heroes in HRs have some kind of reputation Reread #2 (3/20/2021) This book still has the best female friendship ever! The wedding scene was hilarious. Iain and Judith are the best and I love them so much. The plot is perfect and I enjoyed the underlying feminism subplot in it. It was all just so good and so entertaining and I’m pretty sure I’ll reread it and enjoy it many times again! Definitely one of my all time favourite HRs!! 5 stars Now there’s something worth mentioning about this book, male heroes in HRs have some kind of reputation, but the hero in this one was, dare I say, sweet? Iain totally took me by surprise. He’s that alpha headstrong highlander who still have a soft spot for Judith. I loved Judith. She was so freakin amusing and outspoken. I loved how she made a home for herself and how she fought for the women in the clan. The friendship between her and Frances Catherine was the best! These two made me jealous with how such great friends they are. The book was so addicting to read. I was glued to my seat till I finished it. The dialogues were hilarious. I loved the feminist subplot and how lain was supporting Judith and her decisions. I loved all the side characters, they were amazing. This was such a cute fun HR that made me laugh and swoon a lot. I can already see myself reading it again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stacey is Sassy

    Left me with a big goofy grin... I feel like I would be repeating myself if I wrote a review for The Secret. This is by far one of my very favourite historical romances, and definitely, one of my top Julie Garwood reads/listens. The characters are awesome and I absolutely loved the friendship between two little girls who had no idea they should be enemies. Ian is one of the best highlander heroes and I loved revisiting with him and his clan. I'm sure I'll be back again next year. ********** This one Left me with a big goofy grin... I feel like I would be repeating myself if I wrote a review for The Secret. This is by far one of my very favourite historical romances, and definitely, one of my top Julie Garwood reads/listens. The characters are awesome and I absolutely loved the friendship between two little girls who had no idea they should be enemies. Ian is one of the best highlander heroes and I loved revisiting with him and his clan. I'm sure I'll be back again next year. ********** This one will never get old. I will always love visiting the highlands and Judith and Ian's love story is one of my very favourites. I laughed, sniffled and sighed. I'm sure I will be back again soon...ish... ********** The Secret wasn't such a secret after all. I loved The Secret and after listening to it for the first time and re-reading it for the 20 billionth time, I think I love it more. Judith is a strong and feisty English woman whose best friend is a Scot. When she's asked to attend her friends birthing of her first child, she does not hesitate to pack her bags. Ian is Laird and as a favour to his brother offers to collect the English woman. Ian thinks his brother is daft giving in to his woman and scoffed at his devotion and need to make her happy. When the two meet there is an instant attraction, but a Scottish Laird and an English lass is not a good alliance. Judith has a secret that could ruin everything. Ian knows that by taking an English bride he's asking for trouble...but can't seem to stop himself. Only the two of them can decide if their love is worth the sacrifice. I laughed so hard at this one and got some very strange looks on the train. I'm pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face for most this one. The storyline is captivating, the characters lovable and the love story enough to make me sigh. I will definitely be listening to more in the future.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dina

    This book grabbed from the Prologue, filled with both endearing and funny moments. In a few pages, Ms. Garwood had me loving Judith, the heroine, and her friend Frances Catherine. By the end of Chapter 2, I was also in love with Iain, the hero, and smiling like a silly girl. What a nice way to start a book! Judith and Frances Catherine met as children and formed an unlikely friendship. Judith was English and Frances Catherine was Scottish, and everyone knew that English and Scottish hated each ot This book grabbed from the Prologue, filled with both endearing and funny moments. In a few pages, Ms. Garwood had me loving Judith, the heroine, and her friend Frances Catherine. By the end of Chapter 2, I was also in love with Iain, the hero, and smiling like a silly girl. What a nice way to start a book! Judith and Frances Catherine met as children and formed an unlikely friendship. Judith was English and Frances Catherine was Scottish, and everyone knew that English and Scottish hated each other... Well, everyone but Judith and Frances Catherine! Their friendship lasted through all the years, and now Frances Catherine was pregnant and wanted Judith by her side as promised years before, to help her with the birth of her child. Iain was the laird of the Maitland clan and Frances Catherine's brother-in-law, and the idea of having an Englishwoman as a guest in his lands didn't particularly sit well with him but he agreed to fulfill his sister-in-law's request - after all, he was an honorable man and he always put his family first, no matter what. So he set to England to fetch Judith and escort her to her friend's side, even though he expected her to dishonor her childhood promise and not go to Frances Catherine's. She was English, hence her word didn't mean anything, right? Well, Iain was more than surprised to find out his preconceived notions about Judith were wrong, not to mention a bit disturbed to see how she managed to enchant not only him but all of his men in no time. But she had a secret - yeah, the one the titles refers to - that could complicate a relationship between them, so she was determined to fight her attraction to him. Not that would make any difference, once Iain had his mind set on keeping her... ;) Iain was just wonderful! Honorable, protective, caring and, oh yes, arrogant. He didn't ask, he demanded. His marriage proposal to Judith made me gasp, then laugh. It was so delicious and outrageous. "Judith, I'm keeping you." How could she argue with that? (LOL) And yet, he couldn't find a way to get her to understand the "chain of command" to be followed in his clan. But he was no fool when it came to Judith and didn't waste time trying to keep her at arm's lenght. Judith was as great as Iain. Honorable, kind-hearted and smart. Stubborn too, because that was the only way she could meet Iain's arrogance. She wasn't afraid to stand her ground but she never acted like those stupid heroines who pick a fight with the hero just to show how "feisty" they are. She was above that. Seeing her argue her cases in her particular ilogical way of thinking was too funny. No wonder everyone always ended up agreeing with her. Iain and Judith's love story was funny and sigh-worthy at the same time. I lost count of the times I laughed out loud - thankfully, there was no one else around or they would think I was crazy - or simply smiled in contentment. There were also a few angsty moments near the end of the book, but I never doubted that Iain would make everything right. Now, I need to comment on the feeling of déjà vu that bugged me a little while I was reading it. In one particular sequence of events, I was reminded of A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught: when the little boy threw some stones at Judith, she protected him, settled the matter by herself and, in the process, gained the boy's mother's allegiance and respect. That had enough similarity with some events in McNaught's book to make me raise an eyebrow. Going further, Judith and the heroine in A Kingdom of Dreams also had some similar characteristics: both were somewhat mistreated by their own families, their fathers were their heroes' enemy and they only found their "place in the world" in their heroes' clans. Of course, there were several differences that kept the books apart, and The Secret was a very enjoyable read by its own merit. I already see myself rereading it over and over again in the future.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jilly

    There was a lot to love about this book, but I think my favorite thing was the friendship between our heroine and her bestie. They grew up seeing each other once a year and had that kind of loyalty that only comes with being best girlfriends. When our heroine's bestie, Frances Catherine, becomes pregnant, she calls upon our girl, Judith, to fulfill a promise she made to be there when the baby is born. This may seem like no big deal, but Judith is English and Frances Catherine is Scottish and in a There was a lot to love about this book, but I think my favorite thing was the friendship between our heroine and her bestie. They grew up seeing each other once a year and had that kind of loyalty that only comes with being best girlfriends. When our heroine's bestie, Frances Catherine, becomes pregnant, she calls upon our girl, Judith, to fulfill a promise she made to be there when the baby is born. This may seem like no big deal, but Judith is English and Frances Catherine is Scottish and in a clan of some very anti-English warriors. But, Judith is determined to be with her friend, so she sets off with Frances Catherine's brother-in-law to Scotland. He is the Laird of his clan, and pretty much as alpha as they come. You know how I usually feel about alpha-men: stabby, hate-filled anger. But, Iain is the sweetheart kind of alpha - all bossy, but adorable. Especially in his assumptions that his new wife (oh, yeah, they get married) will be all submissive. Ahaha! Men. They try, don't they? Frances Catherine reacts to Judith's marriage with the perfect best-friend question: "Are we happy about this marriage?" Judith lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "I suppose we are." Of course, Iain has already commanded Judith to be happy, so there really was no question about it. "you will like being married to me, Judith. I command it." Isn't it cute when they are all fierce? The friendship between these two women starts a new fellowship between the other women of the clan. Before, they had all been too busy working their asses off all day, and never getting to know each other to build friendships. But, after seeing the friendship of these two, things start to change. Judith does a lot to lift up the women, and I love how her Laird husband supports her in every change. There were a couple of times when I felt like Judith was too easily accepted, some problems were too easily solved, and all of the changes came too easily. But, it was still a very enjoyable story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    HOW HAVE I NOT READ JULIE GARWOOD UNTIL NOW?!?! Seriously, I am a huge highlander romance fan and this book was everything. First, I loved how close Frances Catherine and Judith were. The first chapter where they met as children was so adorable and I loved their close bond. Because of that, Judith has to go to the highlands when Frances Catherine is pregnant to be by her side. However, during this time, the Scottish hate the English and they are not at all welcoming to them to come into their la HOW HAVE I NOT READ JULIE GARWOOD UNTIL NOW?!?! Seriously, I am a huge highlander romance fan and this book was everything. First, I loved how close Frances Catherine and Judith were. The first chapter where they met as children was so adorable and I loved their close bond. Because of that, Judith has to go to the highlands when Frances Catherine is pregnant to be by her side. However, during this time, the Scottish hate the English and they are not at all welcoming to them to come into their lands. I loved how Iain is laird but still went to escort Judith from England to Scotland because Frances Catherine is married to his brother. The moment they meet? FIREWORKS. Their relationship was just so perfect and I loved how they gave into their lust even though they were determined to hate each other. Judith has a fire about her and she's the perfect person to be with Iain. While Iain is supposed to be this headstrong, stubborn highlander, he has a soft spot for Judith and I loved how he would do anything to protect her. This entire book had me swooning and I couldn't put it down. I am so excited to read even more from Julie Garwood and collect all of her books!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lacey (laceybooklovers)

    Absolutely brilliant!! I can see why everyone adores this book so much and considers it a classic of historical romance. I truly loved everything about this book: Judith and her headstrong ways, Iain and his tenderness with Judith, the powerful, hilarious friendship between Judith and her best friend Frances, the feminist themes, the ridiculous wedding. Everything was PERFECT!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Delightful 4 stars The Secret was a delight to read. I was easily swept into Julie Garwood’s world of witty dialogue, enchanting characters, and feel good romance. I did, however, find it difficult to feel the connection and chemistry between Iain's and Judith's characters during the first half of the book. In fact, at times I felt there was more chemistry between Judith and Brodick than between Judith and Iain. Fortunately, by the end of the story I was a firm believer in Judith's and Iain's rela Delightful 4 stars The Secret was a delight to read. I was easily swept into Julie Garwood’s world of witty dialogue, enchanting characters, and feel good romance. I did, however, find it difficult to feel the connection and chemistry between Iain's and Judith's characters during the first half of the book. In fact, at times I felt there was more chemistry between Judith and Brodick than between Judith and Iain. Fortunately, by the end of the story I was a firm believer in Judith's and Iain's relationship. There is a reason I gave this book a higher rating than I normally would have, considering I was less than enchanted with the romantic element between the two main characters. I loved the richly developed and engaging relationships that Iain and Judith had with the secondary characters. The book’s cast of minor characters were spectacular and I easily fell in love with each and everyone one of them. I especially loved the beautifully portrayed friendship between Judith and her best friend, Frances Catherine. Their friendship, in many ways, was the heart of the story and provided many of the books endearing moments. I cannot end this review without raving about my favorite part of this book, the wedding scene. It was brilliantly and cleverly written and makes me laugh every time I think about it. By far the best written wedding scene I've read to date! Over all, I enjoyed The Secret and would recommend it. Julie Garwood has a way of leaving me smiling and always wanting more.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chantal ❤️

    This book was amazing! I loved how possessive the hero was towards the heroine. He would not let he ride with anyone else during their trip to the keep. Omg he was just so sweet and he was loving. Their chemistry was off the charts and the whole birthing rights and rituals was just great to read. I had to look up everything. Wow have we come a long way from these dark days. The whole sin of eve thing was pissing me off. It was those times I guess. Still loved it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    D.G.

    This is my first book by Julie Garwood and it may be my last. Yes, I enjoyed this book but I found it too cutesy and simplistic. I think that if it had been either a funny book or a dark book I would have enjoyed it more, but this mix of funny banter with very dark topics didn’t do it for me. On one hand, you have very serious topics: dangers and fear of pregnancy (which is the first time I have read in a historical so I give the author kudos for that), battles between clans in Scotland, the hatr This is my first book by Julie Garwood and it may be my last. Yes, I enjoyed this book but I found it too cutesy and simplistic. I think that if it had been either a funny book or a dark book I would have enjoyed it more, but this mix of funny banter with very dark topics didn’t do it for me. On one hand, you have very serious topics: dangers and fear of pregnancy (which is the first time I have read in a historical so I give the author kudos for that), battles between clans in Scotland, the hatred between the Scottish and the English. All of these represent a serious hurdle between the hero and the heroine (except the pregnancy because she wasn’t the pregnant one) but at the end all the problems are dissolved as if by magic just because the heroine is nice. She’s able to deliver babies and reassure fears even though she’s a hated Englishwoman with no practical experience. All of the formidable warriors fall at her feet overnight and the fearsome council becomes a gang of cute old guys. She’s even able to introduce changes about the way women are treated in the clan and everybody sees the justice of her arguments and agrees with her! As if justice or logic has anything to do with distrust and different customs among cultures. I compare this to an American woman going to a Muslim village, telling everybody they don’t treat women fairly and them agreeing and changing their way of life overnight! Do you really think this is likely? So overall, this is a cute book with agreeable characters (a lot of nice women with husbands who loved them), and a nice heroine and a hunky highhanded hero who’s sweet at times. Not the worst I’ve read but not the best either.

  11. 4 out of 5

    UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

    5 bloody brilliant, hot Highland Laird stars! Audio/Kindle/Paperback Review Very rarely do I have the opportunity to read a book that isn't a review required read, but I needed something familiar, something comforting this past week, and so I chose to re-read/listen to this story. I am so, so very glad I did! I had read The Secret (paperback) years ago and never reviewed because I was on a Julie Garwood binge. Book after book, I didn't have time to stop and write down my thoughts because I coul 5 bloody brilliant, hot Highland Laird stars! Audio/Kindle/Paperback Review Very rarely do I have the opportunity to read a book that isn't a review required read, but I needed something familiar, something comforting this past week, and so I chose to re-read/listen to this story. I am so, so very glad I did! I had read The Secret (paperback) years ago and never reviewed because I was on a Julie Garwood binge. Book after book, I didn't have time to stop and write down my thoughts because I couldn't stop reading long enough to do so. This story will always be a favorite read, but as a listen? It's amazing! Description...New York Times best-selling author Julie Garwood captures the Highland splendor of medieval Scotland in this breathtaking love story. The inspiration for her acclaimed bestseller Ransom, this classic tale is a passionate masterpiece from one of the best-loved storytellers of all time. Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another 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, however, 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 spirited clash of 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!My review... Julie Garwood was my first venture into Historical Romance, and the genre became an instant favorite. I grabbed every single Garwood HR I could get my hands on, and wept when I learned she wasn't writing HR anymore. Okay, maybe "wept" is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much! When people ask what my favorite HR novel is, I always think of Garwood's books. The Prize, The Bride, The Wedding... it's hard to pick an all time favorite. But I can honestly say, The Secret is right up there on the list. And I've fallen in love with it, all over again. This past weekend I listened (and read along - Kindle) to Susan Duerden not just read the book, but perform it. Her incredible ability to let each character's unique personality shine through made this an absolute delight to experience. The prologue is one of the best I had ever read, and now listening to Ms. Duerden bring the wee little girls, Judith and Frances Catherine to life... then bring them together again as grown women whose friendship passed the test of time and will inspire Lairds and clansmen... truly, I can't put into words how much I enjoyed this story. No, how much I LOVE this story! Every page, every sentence, every word... The bottom line... As I said, my reading time is precious to me and there isn't enough of it, but when I needed something familiar and comforting, I chose this book. That in itself should bear testament to how much I adore The Secret. I sighed, I smiled, I laughed... the witty dialog and laugh out loud banter, the sexual chemistry... it captured my heart and made me fall in love with the obstinate Laird Iain Maitland and the adorable, equally obstinate Lady Judith, all over again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I wanted to read a Highlander romance 💗 you know, to help me get through Monday, so I decided to read this 😗. I prefer The Ransom, by Julie Garwood (which I read first, years ago)--I had no idea this was a series. 🤔 This was a fun read, albeit sometimes annoying the way the men act, but that's historical romance at times 😅 Still, despite possessive men, and archaic views the romance between the two main characters was fun. I enjoyed the relationship between Judith and Frances Catherine the most, I wanted to read a Highlander romance 💗 you know, to help me get through Monday, so I decided to read this 😗. I prefer The Ransom, by Julie Garwood (which I read first, years ago)--I had no idea this was a series. 🤔 This was a fun read, albeit sometimes annoying the way the men act, but that's historical romance at times 😅 Still, despite possessive men, and archaic views the romance between the two main characters was fun. I enjoyed the relationship between Judith and Frances Catherine the most, who were basically sisters from different misters 😀 I loved their dialogue together throughout the story. If your craving a Higlander romance this is a good place to start. 3.8🔥🔥🔥

  13. 5 out of 5

    Choko

    *** 4 *** A very sweet and pleasant Highlander Historical Romance! I enjoyed it exactly for what it was - a romance in a very difficult for women time. I know most of my GR friends get upset over the almost none existing female rights of those times and want all heroines to be strong, bold and independent, which would be absolutely absurd for their environment. Although I like the historical accurate portrayal of that, this book manages to successfully combine a close proximity to Historical accu *** 4 *** A very sweet and pleasant Highlander Historical Romance! I enjoyed it exactly for what it was - a romance in a very difficult for women time. I know most of my GR friends get upset over the almost none existing female rights of those times and want all heroines to be strong, bold and independent, which would be absolutely absurd for their environment. Although I like the historical accurate portrayal of that, this book manages to successfully combine a close proximity to Historical accuracy with strong female characters. Yes, there is the insta-love thing, and the overbearing layered, as well as the very positive bias toward the Highlanders vs. the Brits, but as every devoted HR fanatic knows, this is only to be expected. And I am sure that every woman who has ever read a romance novel knows, the Scottish man, being from the highlands, lowlands or the border region, is the hottest, most virulent man in the world!!! Right? I am saving for a vacation there, so they better not disappoint me! P. S., if I don't return from that vacation, don't worry - I will be well taken care of, so no search teams are necessary! But feel free to be jealous! :-) Back to the book, I recommend it to all romantic saps like me:-) Have fun and enjoy a good book!!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    4.5 STARS "There will be flowers..." Loved it. Which was not a surprise to me. I have read Garwood before, and loved her other books as well. The heroine did start out a little immature in her behavior but the character developed nicely as the story progressed. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. 4.5 STARS "There will be flowers..." Loved it. Which was not a surprise to me. I have read Garwood before, and loved her other books as well. The heroine did start out a little immature in her behavior but the character developed nicely as the story progressed. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

  15. 4 out of 5

    NMmomof4

    3.5 Stars Overall Opinion: This wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be. I didn't dislike it, but I just didn't love it either. The prologue sucked me in right from the start! The girls' friendship was too cute and I was so excited to continue on the story. It has to be one of the best prologues I've read in a while! The friendship amongst the women (and a few of the elders) was definitely the highlight of the story for me. I felt like the romance was off to great start, but then quickly 3.5 Stars Overall Opinion: This wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be. I didn't dislike it, but I just didn't love it either. The prologue sucked me in right from the start! The girls' friendship was too cute and I was so excited to continue on the story. It has to be one of the best prologues I've read in a while! The friendship amongst the women (and a few of the elders) was definitely the highlight of the story for me. I felt like the romance was off to great start, but then quickly took a backseat to the clan and family drama going on. That was a definite bummer, because I really enjoyed the H at first but he seemed to just fizzle out for me. The ending felt way too abrupt too, and where was my beloved epilogue?! Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Judith and Iain story. The meet when Iain is sent to get Judith from England to bring her back to the highlands to help with his sister-in-law's birthing. He is distrustful of the English woman at first, but quickly cannot deny that his initial judgments were too hasty. They quickly are unable to fight their strong attraction to each other, and share a few unexpected kisses. The more time they spend together, the more they cannot deny the pull they feel towards one another and fall in love. There is some clan and family drama, a few sexy times, and some funny moments...and they get a HEA ending. POV: This alternated between focusing on Judith and Iain in 3rd person narrative. Overall Pace of Story: Good. The ending did feel abrupt, but otherwise I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well. Instalove: No, they take a while to develop stronger feelings. H rating: 3.5 stars. Iain. I loved him at first, but (like I said above) he just fizzled out to me and became kind of ...meh. h rating: 5 stars. Judith. I loved her! She was awesome! She was strong, smart, funny, and loyal. Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed Push/Pull: Yes (view spoiler)[The H pushes away emotionally at times, but I'd say he is still the main pursuer of the relationship. (hide spoiler)] Heat level: Decent. They have decent tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story. It could've been better imo 🤷🏻‍♀️ Descriptive sex: Yes OW/OM drama: No Sex scene with OW or OM: No Cheating: No Separation: No Possible Triggers: Yes, but mild (view spoiler)[ The h's uncle was an alcoholic and would be verbally and sometimes physically abusive (off page - through mentions), and the h was a virgin. (hide spoiler)] Closure: This had pretty good closure, but I would've liked a jump ahead glimpse into their future. There was no epilogue, and those that follow my reviews know that doesn't work for me!! I would, however, call this a HEA ending. How I got it: I got it on loan through my public library and Amazon. Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers (view spoiler)[ - Does Not have cheating - Does Not have a descriptive sex scene with OW/OM - Does have the H pushing the h away - Does Not have a separation between the h and H - Does Not have abuse by mcs - Does Not have OTT sad parts - Does have a HEA ending (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    *TANYA*

    Sigh!!! This was magnificent!!! I hadn't done a highlander book in a long while. The story was adorable. The writing was funny and the characters were endearing. Lovely!!! Sigh!!! This was magnificent!!! I hadn't done a highlander book in a long while. The story was adorable. The writing was funny and the characters were endearing. Lovely!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lover of Romance

    The Secret takes us back into time to the Scottish Highlands, medieval time period. Where we have Judith Hampton who is English, but never knew her father, except for his ring, and her mother not caring one whit about her welfare. Having gone from different relatives homes, and now a grown up woman, has studies childbirth for her closest and best friend Frances Catherine, who is married to the brother of Laird Maclean. So when the Iain's goes to retrieve Judith on behalf of his brother and his w The Secret takes us back into time to the Scottish Highlands, medieval time period. Where we have Judith Hampton who is English, but never knew her father, except for his ring, and her mother not caring one whit about her welfare. Having gone from different relatives homes, and now a grown up woman, has studies childbirth for her closest and best friend Frances Catherine, who is married to the brother of Laird Maclean. So when the Iain's goes to retrieve Judith on behalf of his brother and his wife, he never expected to find her so beautiful. Iain is used to obedience as being the leader of his clan, however Judith clashes her will with his on every occasion they are together, not used to such defiance, Iain is quite intrigued by this English woman, whom he desires for himself, but knows its complicated to do so, especially since his clan despises the English, however Judith is another story althogether, for she is nothing like the weak willed English he has known. Judith only mission was to come to her friend Frances Catherine's rescue, and help her give birth, but never realizing how much she ached for Iain tender embrace and passionate kissing and knows that she is falling in love with this Scottish Laird, who would surely hate her once he knew who her father truly was, but will he still love her when he finds out the truth? And will there be a happily ever after? The Secret is another favorite of mine to read from Julie Garwood, I just love her scottish historicals they are my favorite books of her that I love to read from. In The Secret we have Judith who is English and at this time in History the Scots and the English hate each other. So when Iain brings her to his clan, at first Judith is considered a outsider to his clan. However as things progress throughout the story we see that she starts to make her home in the clan and with Iain. Where both Iain and Judith will find a glorious and passionate love in each other that they never expected to find. I found that Julie Garwood, especially in The Secret, brings to life the magic and adventure of this time period in the Highlands. With wonderful characters that will charm and delight you, and a plot that will only entice you into reading more and more of this wonderful author!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sentranced Jem

    It's a double edged sword that the first HR book I ever read was by Julie Garwood...I fell in love with Historical romance because of her and I always end up comparing her books to other HR books. Another awesome reread. It's a double edged sword that the first HR book I ever read was by Julie Garwood...I fell in love with Historical romance because of her and I always end up comparing her books to other HR books. Another awesome reread.

  19. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    *2.5 STARS* I loved how the main character stood up for women's rights and everything, but there was literally no plot and it was hella boring :( *2.5 STARS* I loved how the main character stood up for women's rights and everything, but there was literally no plot and it was hella boring :(

  20. 4 out of 5

    ~Nichole~ Sizzling Pages Romance Reviews

    20 years ago all I read was historical romance. Unfortunately I can't remember any of them except Gone with the Wind. So here I am a romance addict and I'm just now discovering Julie Garwood and all about the Alpha perfection of Scottish Highlanders. Iain just did it for me from the start. Brooding yet tender and kind. Funny and temperamental too. This story grabbed me at the prologue because one of my favorite things about any story is friendships between women. The secrets and bonds they share 20 years ago all I read was historical romance. Unfortunately I can't remember any of them except Gone with the Wind. So here I am a romance addict and I'm just now discovering Julie Garwood and all about the Alpha perfection of Scottish Highlanders. Iain just did it for me from the start. Brooding yet tender and kind. Funny and temperamental too. This story grabbed me at the prologue because one of my favorite things about any story is friendships between women. The secrets and bonds they share and how these bonds are strong enough to withstand distance and animosity. Judith is probably my favorite heroine I've read in a very long time. Today's heroines aren't always very womanly because it's almost a bad word to need a man for anything. I'm old fashioned and I'm not ashamed of that. I like a strong man who can lead and protect and provide. Yet he cherishes and respects his woman always. The humor in this story really surprised me. I laughed out loud so often I had tears. Judith really embodied a true lady with strength and class. Grace under fire for sure. The way one woman.. Changed the hearts of every single person she touched just warned me all the way through. I have been in a romance fog since I started this story yesterday. I'm only wishing I had more time to just binge read this author. This will definitely be a favorite of mine forever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dina

    Opening line: They became friends before they were old enough to understand they were supposed to hate each other. That's got to be one of loveliest opening lines ever, and everything that came afterwards was as delightful as that. A true keeper that only gets better every time I reread it. Opening line: They became friends before they were old enough to understand they were supposed to hate each other. That's got to be one of loveliest opening lines ever, and everything that came afterwards was as delightful as that. A true keeper that only gets better every time I reread it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eastofoz

    4.5 stars and it could’ve been 5 if there was just a smidge more “unglossed” steam, otherwise it’s beautifully written and the characters bounce off the pages. It’s the type of story you can lose yourself in and forget where you are –despite the annoying microscopic print! Garwood does a fantastic job with the language in this book. She twists and turns simple things to make them all complicated and in the end it’s hilarious. There are so many parts left vague or unsaid and you keep on reading be 4.5 stars and it could’ve been 5 if there was just a smidge more “unglossed” steam, otherwise it’s beautifully written and the characters bounce off the pages. It’s the type of story you can lose yourself in and forget where you are –despite the annoying microscopic print! Garwood does a fantastic job with the language in this book. She twists and turns simple things to make them all complicated and in the end it’s hilarious. There are so many parts left vague or unsaid and you keep on reading because you want to know what’s happening –it’s all done on purpose to keep the reader interested. If you like some unique playing around with sentences then you’ll love the hero and the heroine. They exchange these short one-liners throughout the story that are absolutely perfect. There’s quite a bit of sexual tension and the hero is reluctant to admit his feelings for the heroine, but there is hardly any arguing mostly one-upmanship with sharp wit and even sharper banter which makes this story a true gem. Iain, Laird of clan Maitland, tries soooo hard to act all cool and be Mr I’m In Control of My Woman only to end up doing exactly what she wanted him to do before the war of words started. He is her pillar of strength. Judith is an excellent heroine because she can hold her own and still be vulnerable. She's audacious without being vulgar or silly. Iain is so very lost without her. It’s very moving how she treats the other women in the clan also and what happens as a result. This isn’t your run of the mill medieval. Welcome to the smart person’s historical –how refreshing :)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ⓐlleskelle - That ranting lady ッ

    Loved it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Debbie DiFiore

    Love The Secret March has been a bleak month for me so I have been rereading my favorite books. This one is so cute. I love the scene where the two girls meet. It is so sweet. And their friendship is such a major part of the book. And the hero is just wonderful. You can see him falling in love with her as they travel to Scotland and she of course is too. I like her strength and bravery throughout the whole book. She is a great heroine. Julie Garwood's books are like candy to me. I can't get enoug Love The Secret March has been a bleak month for me so I have been rereading my favorite books. This one is so cute. I love the scene where the two girls meet. It is so sweet. And their friendship is such a major part of the book. And the hero is just wonderful. You can see him falling in love with her as they travel to Scotland and she of course is too. I like her strength and bravery throughout the whole book. She is a great heroine. Julie Garwood's books are like candy to me. I can't get enough of her characters. They are good people. People I would like to know . And the romance is very passionate without being crude. I feel it. I definitely love this author. I may try some of her !mystery novels too. This is a safe read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    Reread!!! 6 stars, forget 5. 😂 This is my favorite I'm sure of JG. I loved, I mean loved Iain and Judith together. Beautiful couple and such chemistry!!!!!! The dialogue and interaction between the two was priceless. The love and respect these two had for each other was dream worthy. I want more historical romances like this please!!!!! Highly recommended!!!!! Reread!!! 6 stars, forget 5. 😂 This is my favorite I'm sure of JG. I loved, I mean loved Iain and Judith together. Beautiful couple and such chemistry!!!!!! The dialogue and interaction between the two was priceless. The love and respect these two had for each other was dream worthy. I want more historical romances like this please!!!!! Highly recommended!!!!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    KatieV

    It's cheesy and probably not incredibly historically accurate, but still manages to be very enjoyable. I even find myself loving Garwood's Mary Sue heroines. I suppose she simply gets a pass for making it all so darn enjoyable. Recommended for days when you just want a light/sweet/feel good romance. It's cheesy and probably not incredibly historically accurate, but still manages to be very enjoyable. I even find myself loving Garwood's Mary Sue heroines. I suppose she simply gets a pass for making it all so darn enjoyable. Recommended for days when you just want a light/sweet/feel good romance.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gerbera_Reads

    This book actually started with a bit of fun. Two little girls who didn't know they should hate each other one being English and the other being Scottish become fast friends. They nurture their friendship through the years making each other a promise to come in the time of need. When Judith begins her travels to Scotland with men sent to retrieve her to help her see her friend she starts falling in love with the chieftain Iain. It's all possessive attitude, growling and arrogance galore. I liked This book actually started with a bit of fun. Two little girls who didn't know they should hate each other one being English and the other being Scottish become fast friends. They nurture their friendship through the years making each other a promise to come in the time of need. When Judith begins her travels to Scotland with men sent to retrieve her to help her see her friend she starts falling in love with the chieftain Iain. It's all possessive attitude, growling and arrogance galore. I liked Judith because she was so unburdened by this hatred to all things Scottish, she saw the world as it should be not as it was and always tried to help others. She breathed fresh air into Maclean clan and brought needed changes. Iain Maclean is a typical male of his time - demanding, stubborn and sinfully good-looking. But there are moments when he is tender and understanding with Judith that make me think that deep down he can be a softie if only for his wife. This was funny at times sweet historical romance. It did feature a myriad of ancient ridiculous beliefs that I loved reading about. So I recommend it! I liked it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susanne

    *Still dancing happy dance* I am so grateful to my GR friends; otherwise I might have missed this gem! I don't know what to write. It was funny, heartwarming, charming, and romantic and amazing all wrapped in one. JG’s highland romances are quickly moving up on my favorite list. Lady Judith Elizabeth is a wonderful (English) heroine and Iain is a clueless, arrogant Scottish lair who doesn't think he will fall in love – but of course he does *happy sigh* It might have been quite similar to The Bri *Still dancing happy dance* I am so grateful to my GR friends; otherwise I might have missed this gem! I don't know what to write. It was funny, heartwarming, charming, and romantic and amazing all wrapped in one. JG’s highland romances are quickly moving up on my favorite list. Lady Judith Elizabeth is a wonderful (English) heroine and Iain is a clueless, arrogant Scottish lair who doesn't think he will fall in love – but of course he does *happy sigh* It might have been quite similar to The Bride but why change an amazing concept? And the scenery in this book was amazing. I so want to go to the Scottish highland - like right now!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sophie ♥

    I won't be writing a review but I will write a few of my thoughts on this book. As much as a I liked the light-hearted tone of this book, I also felt that Julie Garwood essentially just glossed over any drama or angst. It was almost like she wanted to simplify everything for us. The plot wasn't very sophisticated, but I enjoyed her writing and wit enough for the plot to not really matter. I was slightly disappointed in the ending. The ending of a romance novel is usually the best part of the boo I won't be writing a review but I will write a few of my thoughts on this book. As much as a I liked the light-hearted tone of this book, I also felt that Julie Garwood essentially just glossed over any drama or angst. It was almost like she wanted to simplify everything for us. The plot wasn't very sophisticated, but I enjoyed her writing and wit enough for the plot to not really matter. I was slightly disappointed in the ending. The ending of a romance novel is usually the best part of the book but I think this one had it back to front. The book started out great, stayed great but fell off a bit towards the end. Perhaps it was just missing that extra bit of excitement. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who want to read a historical romance without drama and angst.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Repeating this one again! A feel-good favorite. Love these Highland Historicals. Garwood is a kick, a mix of humor, sizzle, and action. She can't be taken too seriously, since her heroes are over-the-top alpha and her plots are improbable. As I read this — for the nth time— I smiled and chuckled, and then frowned at the hypocracy of the male-dominated church. Have read it oodles of times. Beautiful story. I just adore Iain Maitland and even his heroine, Judith. Sweet romance between Iain's brothe Repeating this one again! A feel-good favorite. Love these Highland Historicals. Garwood is a kick, a mix of humor, sizzle, and action. She can't be taken too seriously, since her heroes are over-the-top alpha and her plots are improbable. As I read this — for the nth time— I smiled and chuckled, and then frowned at the hypocracy of the male-dominated church. Have read it oodles of times. Beautiful story. I just adore Iain Maitland and even his heroine, Judith. Sweet romance between Iain's brother Patrick and Judith's best friend Frances Katherine. A loyal friendship between Judith and Frances Katherine. Fun girlfriend scenes! Some serious themes, too. Garwood includes Scottish-English animosity, and the plight of women damned by the Catholic church for supposed sins during child-birthing, but I have no idea how much is based in fact. Still, it's believable. A favorite secondary character in this book is Brodick, who gets a book of his own, Ransom. It's a good story, and we see Iain and Judith with children. Ramsey also gets a girl. Audio version: Susan Duerden narrated the Audible version. She did a fine job with the women, but not so great with the Scottish men. They sound enraged a lot — it hurts my ears — and the accent is like a mix of French, Scottish, and ...umm...Transylvanian? Count Scottula. Sequel is Ransom, as mentioned above. Nice cover!

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