Dear Ms. Garwood:
I want you to know that I open myself up to ridicule from any number of blogland sources such as my blogging partners, Jayne and Janine, Keishon, Maili, and who knows else by writing this love letter to you. Alas, I cannot let this week of thankfulness pass by without referencing at least one of your books that I have read so much that is poor cover fell off. So I am hiding this review on Thanksgiving where I can be quietly be thankful for this book whilst the rest of the US blogland is sleepy from gorging on turkey and mashed potatoes. (As an aside, the Thanksgiving episode where Jerry plays with the mint boxed Superman whilst girlfriend is drugged upon Trytophan is hilarious).
This was one of the first of your books that I had ever read and the opening scene is unforgettable.
They meant to kill him.
Baron Duncan of Wexton land is standing naked, tied to the pole in the bitter winter. Even at his seemingly weakest moment, his enemies still fear him. They stand a weapon’s length away to spit at his feet and mock him. Duncan is unafraid. He acknowledges he may lose his feet to frostbite but even as he stands there, his men are climbing the walls so that they can carry out the plan against Baron Loudden.
Madelyne, Loudden’s half sister, is watching this. Madelyne is a gentle soul. She cannot allow this atrocity of Loudden’s to be executed. She creeps out and frees Duncan and then performs an incredibly selfless act. This action forever changes the dynamic between Duncan and Madelyne. Duncan has come for Madelyne to revenge Loudden’s defilement of Duncan’s sister. “An eye for an eye” Duncan says to Madelyne.
Madelyne understands but tells Duncan that it is of no use. Loudden has no respect or love for her as Duncan and his siblings have for their sister. Loudden will not understand this act as Duncan intends. Duncan believes that Madelyne is just trying to get him to leave her there and totally ignores the family dynamic that Madelye is trying to explain. What we readers come to understand early on is that Loudden’s feelings for Madelyne are quite unnatural and that he will pursue Madelyne.
Madelyne was sorely abused by her family, other than the family priest. She has little self worth. Duncan sweeps Madelyne off to the Wexton land where Madelyne gains a true family even though she has to fight through bitterness and hatred directed toward her by Duncan’s family. In true Garwood fashion, Madelyne wins over everyone with her kindness and her ineptness. She’s so loveable even Duncan’s fierce stallion falls for her in a hilarious scene. Your characteristic gentle humor is sprinkled throughout the story. Every trite and hackneyed plot device and characterization seems to be included in this book: heroine gets illness, reveals terrible mistreatment during fevers; loves small animals; is kind to the servants; gentles the fiercest of men. But you know, it wasn’t hackneyed when I first read it and despite the familiar conventions, I still enjoy this book on re-reads. Thanks for writing gentle love stories with good humor and lots of passion.