Desert Isle Keeper
I’ve been reading and reviewing romance novels for a long time now and there are times I think I’ve read it all, but then a book like Broken Wing comes along to make me sit up and take notice. I began reading it one night and stayed up till I finished it. It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt like reading all night, and I was tired the next day, but this book was worth it.
Sarah, Lady Munroe and her brother Ross, Earl of Huntington, have been searching for several years for their little brother James who has been missing. They have finally located him….in a brothel in Paris. Fearing the worst, Sarah and Ross go to the brothel to fetch Jamie only to find that he is fine and untouched. When they get ready to go back to England, Jamie refuses to leave unless he can take his friend Gabriel with him. When Jamie was taken to the brothel, prostitute Gabriel St. Croix took him under his protection and made sure the boy remained safe. Grateful, Sarah and Ross offer Gabriel a position as Jamie’s companion and tutor. Gabriel is startled – never before has anyone offered him anything, and he accepts.
Back in England, Jamie mostly drops out of the picture (my one complaint about the book), and Ross is much consumed with business. This leaves Gabriel and Sarah in each other’s company. Sarah can sense the good man at the core of Gabriel, but he is filled with self-loathing and initially tries to shock her by assuming the role of the jaded catamite. To Gabriel’s shock, Sarah refuses to recoil from him, or to use his body (even when he attempts to seduce her) and instead she offers him kindness and understanding. Gradually, she breaks down his hard shell, frees the decent man inside and they become lovers.
Yet, the path to love is not an easy one for Gabriel and Sarah. When Ross objects to their relationship, Gabriel leaves her to make his fortune and to become a man in his own right – one who will be worthy of her. This causes them to be separated for longer than they had envisioned and Gabriel comes face to face with a person from his past – one he would like to forget.
The story in Broken Wing is an epic one that deserves great characters. Gabriel and Sarah are those characters. Gabriel is the most tortured hero I have read in years and years. Abandoned in the streets as a young boy, he was taken in and taken advantage of by the brothel owner, a truly evil woman. Unlike Jamie, Gabriel had no one to protect him. He has become a skilled prostitute who services both sexes, but he numbs himself with liquor before each encounter and cuts himself to release the pain he feels inside. Before he met Sarah, Gabriel had never been kissed. In his core, he is a talented, kind and decent man and his goodness comes through vividly as the book progresses.
Sarah is a wonderful heroine who is a perfect match for Gabriel. She is a noblewoman by birth and by marriage, but she cares not for Society. Sarah’s mother was from Bohemia and part Gypsy by ancestry, and Sarah is known as The Gypsy Countess and the ton loves to tell the wildest tales about her – tales that Sarah doesn’t bother to refute. Married to a dissolute older man by her uncle, Sarah left her husband after a week to join the crew of her privateer cousin Davy. After her husband’s early death, Sarah turned her energy to horses and has built up an excellent stable. She wears breeches, she does what she wants to do and her motto could be Lily Langtry’s: “They say, what say they, let them say.” Sarah is comfortable in her own skin, she is kind and she is a very shrewd judge of character. She knows that Gabriel is a decent man – a corrupt one would not have protected Jamie.
The love scenes in this book are wonderful. Like all good love scenes, they illuminate the characters and chart the progression of their growing relationship. Judith James can convey more passion and tenderness in a description of a kiss than some erotic writers can with pages and pages and pages of bedroom antics.
Fans of epic tales, tortured heroes and fans of good historical romances, this is the book you have been waiting for. Go out now, and buy yourself a copy or two of Broken Wing and you will be richly rewarded. As for me, I think I will read it a couple more times. What a book!