Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Bride by Julie Garwood ***

Maybe it's just me. This is an AAR Top 100 book. I mean, I went back and re-read the AAR DIK review for this book, and that reviewer makes a passionate argument for how everyone, everywhere should love this book.

But I did not love this book. In fact, now that I've read 3 Garwood books, I think I can say without hesitation that I do not love her writing style. I don't even particularly like it. But I will read the others in the AAR Top 100 just to be sure, since I already have them.

Plot: Jamie, English lass, is chosen by Alec Kincaid, Scottish Laird, to be his bride as arranged by the current English king Henry as part of some political something or other. In other words, he has to marry an Englishwoman, and his choice is limited to the daughters of an English baron. She's feisty and independent and doesn't want to go along with this edict but does. She and he grow to love one another. As backstory, he's a widower whose first wife was thought to have committed suicide but as it turns out she was murdered, and the murderer has it out for Jamie too.

There's something - stilted? - I'm not sure what the word is, or the words are, that I need to describe her writing. The heroine's moods shift hither thither and yon without warning. It's almost - cartoony? - like Keystone Cops, the way people rush about, change direction both literally and in mood and thought. I found myself going back paragraphs, pages, to figure out exactly how we got where we were.

Yes, they develop a passion for each other, and yes, sometimes I found myself being affected - smiling, laughing, feeling things. But more often than not, I felt myself confused. Furrowing my brows and frowning, thinking WTF??

First of all, all that crying and moaning by her sisters. Was that - funny? Disturbing? I mean, 3 adult women moaning and wailing. WTF? Second of all, was Jamie Cinderella or not? We're told over and over at the beginning how she's the favorite, and she has all these skills, then later we're led to believe she'd been ill used, practically abused by her father (who was not really her father at all). WTF? And she's a skillful horsewoman with no sense of direction? WTF?? That direction thing was apparently a joke throughout the book.

Was it a comedy? A thriller? A murder mystery? Either way, Garwood is no Linda Howard, no Nora Roberts, no Elizabeth Lowell, in spinning a tale that contains all of these features.

Was the stilted writing meant to bring to mind how one would speak in Medieval English/Scots? Did people say "spit" then like we say "dang"? Does it matter? Well, maybe not. Would the residents of the Scottish Highlands in 1100 have been speaking both English and Gaelic? I really do not know the history of the 2 languages well enough to know. Maybe that isn't really important to the story.

And yet, in spite of the trouble I had reading it - I didn't hate it. I didn't find her characters Too Stupid To Live, or too annoying to keep reading. I didn't dislike the storyline of an arranged marriage between and English subject and a Scottish laird. I didn't dislike the way they came to love one another, or the mystery of someone unknown trying to kill the Laird's wives. I just did not like the writing style. The Keystone Cop-ishness. The weird switches back and forth of moods.

OK I just don't like Garwood's writing style. That's all I can figure. So, I'll give it 3 stars and try 2 more times to see what it is that makes her books so popular. And if those 2 books don't do it, I'm done with her books - there are just too many Nora Roberts books to read, plus I haven't finished Lowell or Howard's backlists, and there's more Jo Goodman, and jeez, I just got started on Jennifer Crusie, and... No point in wasting time, is there?


Heather's Fave Books said...

I'm sad that you didn't like this book as she is one of my favorite authors. This always one of my fave books. Of course there have been several authors that other people love and I barely tolerate them.

Cindy W said...

My favorites of Julie Garwoods are:
Honor's Splendour
Saving Grace
The Prize

I know exactly how you feel about wasting time...