Occasionally I like to go back and read 'older' titles because I like an author's body of work and want to sample more. I'm calling these reviews "Comfort Classics."
Gentle Warrior (Tapestry Romance #74) by Julie Garwood
Historical romance*Paperback & e-book, 309 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Pocket Books (first published 1985)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ransom comes an exquisite tender tale of love, adventure and passion!
In feudal England, Elizabeth Montwright barely escaped the massacre that destroyed her family and exiled her from her ancestral castle. Bent on revenge, she rode again through the fortress gates, disguised as a peasant...to seek aid from Geoffrey Berkley, the powerful baron who had routed the murderers.
He heard her pleas, resisted her demands, and vowed to seduce his beautiful subject. Yet as Elizabeth fought the warrior's caresses, love flamed for this gallant man who must soon champion her cause...and capture her spirited heart!
With a bouquet of roses on my table and another Valentine's Day just passed, I felt like reading a romance. I picked up an old historical romance by the very first romance author I remembered reading as a teen who made an impact on me. Gentle Warrior is the book I choose this time around.
The story is pleasant enough. The big warrior, Geoffrey, first views Elizabeth Montwright as he is readying himself and his troop for battle. A glance above reveals this ethereal being flanked by two huge dogs, a hawk resting on her arm. Is she real or spirit? Since he is called The Hawk, Geoffrey takes the image as a sign of good luck.
Little does Geoffrey know the woman is real. When he hears she exists, he rides out to search for her and finds her bathing by a waterfall. He approaches and soon learns she is one of two survivors of a massacre, her younger brother the other, and both witnessed the horrors of their family being murdered. Since Geoffrey is Baron and her family his vassals, he becomes involved in seeking out justice for Elizabeth and the slain Montwright clan. He begins by marrying her.
I always like Julie Garwood's historical romances but over time some read like romance-lite, especially this book. The love story, romance, and love scenes seemed formulaic following the warrior marrying the innocent and beautiful young woman/feelings are hurt because the man is not understanding of a female's need for love/she gets in trouble/she faces danger/he helps save her/they have a child/HEA. The characters lacked depth and the romance here didn't 'click' for me. Some of Garwood's novels are magical: she finds that perfect balance of character/situation/action/romance and all of it feels real, so much so it sticks with the reader after finishing the story. That didn't happen here.
Elizabeth could be annoying at times, parts of her dialogue and thoughts became repetitive, and other aspects I expected to see expanded upon fell flat. She has a natural flair for working with animals but nothing came about. Her hawk flies above, gives a warning, and that's it. The story lacked true drama but had lots of melodrama. The climatic scene where the antagonist gets his come-uppance happened offscene. Talk about anti-climatic. I liked Geoffrey and his soldiers (Garwood always excels with her secondary characters) and felt for them when dealing with Elizabeth. I enjoy historical romances but Gentle Warrior failed to meet my expectations of a magical Garwood romance.
Cover comment: Pleasant, if not boring.
Book source: Owned.