Desert Isle Keeper
My mother always told me you could gage a man’s true nature by how he acted with children. Perhaps that’s why I fell in love with fourteen year old Nathan in the prologue of Julie Garwood’s The Gift. As he cradles Sara, his four year-old bride tenderly in his arms, protecting her from her exasperated father, it becomes heartbreakingly apparent just what kind of hero he’s going to be. He does not disappoint.
Married as children to end the century-old feud between their families, the couple is kept apart until Nathan swoops down and kidnaps his bride fourteen years later, just six weeks before the marriage contracts would be violated. What follows is a roller coaster ride of adventure, deceit and yes, passion.
Once aboard Nathan’s ship, the crew quickly comes to believe Sarah is the proverbial albatross. Everything she touches is ruined, but her loyalty and bravery soon win over the rough sailors – even her husband. Torn between wanting to ravish her and throttle her, Nathan begins to open his soul to his sweetly defiant wife.
Their return to England is marred by a conspiracy which threatens to tear them apart. Sarah and Nathan are thrown into the middle of their feuding families, each bent on destroying the other. Sarah must choose between her family and the man she loves. Her family decides to help her make her decision. And who comes charging to her rescue? You know who. Nathan crashes through the door with the force of a small locomotive.
I simply couldn’t help myself and fell wildly in love with this man. He is the only one of Garwood’s heroes I have ever truly liked from the beginning. His wife Sara is one of the most delightful heroines I have ever met. Impulsive, loyal and sometimes infuriating, she is the perfect match for Nathan’s arrogance.
The chemistry between Nathan and Sarah is there from the moment they first lay eyes on each other – as children. Nathan calms his four year-old bride’s tantrum and is protective of her even then. Years later, when he sees what a beauty she has become, his destiny is inescapable. Sarah’s first impression of Nathan isn’t just that he’s big, but that he’s clean – not to mention pretty nice to look at.
I had to wait 128 pages for these two to finally consummate their marriage, but when it finally happened it was one of the most realistic, effective love scenes I had ever read. I didn’t care that it was shorter than most because it seemed to fit so well. Nathan and Sarah spend the book falling in love, not just having sex. When a love scene does occur, it moves the plot, fits the story and is very emotionally effective.
This was the first book of Garwood’s that I’ve read and I still consider it the best. It blends all the best elements of humor, love, suspense and sensuality into one incredible story about what happens when two independent, determined personalities collide and fall in love.
I think what I liked best about the book were the characters themselves – even the secondary ones – and the fact that Garwood made them so human. Instead of being a typical, overbearing Alpha male, Nathan was just a man. He suffered not only from sea sickness (a bit of a problem since he was a pirate), but wounded vanity and self doubt. Sara, while fitting all the requirements of a beautiful heroine, was somewhat scatterbrained. She was also most definitely a klutz, which made her all the more endearing. And her good intentions often lead her from one scrape to another, trying not only Nathan’s patience but convincing most of his men that she was bad luck. Just as stubborn as her husband, she was the only heroine of Garwood’s that I feel has lived up to my expectations. Sara was by no means perfect, and was never dull, which Garwood illustrated by having her threaten a ship full pirates with her awful cooking unless they acceded to she wishes. Nathan just stood by and grinned, earning himself a scathing glare from his wife.
The writer in me envies Garwood for creating such wonderful characters and bringing them to life in a touching and funny story. The reader in me just wishes there were more men like Nathan, Marquess of St. James out there.