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Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud, as purposeful as she was loyal. The dear Scottish friend of her childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith revelled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves.

379 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1992

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About the author

Julie Garwood

153 books11.9k followers
With more than 35 million books in print and 26 NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, Julie Garwood has earned a position among America's favorite fiction writers.

Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, Ms. Garwood attributes much of her success to growing up in a large family of Irish heritage. "The Irish are great storytellers who relish getting all of the details and nuances of every situation. Add in the fact that I was the sixth of seven children. Early in life, I learned that self expression had to be forceful, imaginative, and quick," says Ms. Garwood.

She began her writing career when the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young-adult books, she turned her talents to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published by Pocket Books in 1985. Since then, she has branched into other genres including contemporary romantic suspense. Today, her name appears regularly on the bestseller lists of every major publication in the country, and her books are translated into dozens of languages around the world. Her bestselling novel FOR THE ROSES was adapted for the HALLMARK HALL OF FAME television movie ROSE HILL.

Ms. Garwood lives in Leawood, KS and is currently working on her next novel.

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5 stars
25,267 (48%)
4 stars
16,991 (32%)
3 stars
7,579 (14%)
2 stars
1,485 (2%)
1 star
544 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,375 reviews
May 25, 2017
The Secret, the 1st book in the Highlands' Lairds series, is now tied as my favorite Julie Garwood book with The Bride. I loved this one so much. It starts out so cute with two little girls, one Scottish, on English becoming friends. Judith and Frances Catherine were just so damn cute. Their friendship was like icing on the cake for me. I loved Iain. He was perfect. He just had so much more charm than other JG heroes I have read. I also really loved Judith. I loved that she was sassy, outspoken and brave. I thought Judith and Iain had a sweet relationship filled with passion. I also really liked the secondary characters a lot too. Especially Brodick. I laughed a lot while reading this book. It's one of those sweet feel good reads.
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
534 reviews1,361 followers
March 21, 2021
Reread #2 (3/20/2021) This book still has the best female friendship ever! The wedding scene was hilarious. Iain and Judith are the best and I love them so much. The plot is perfect and I enjoyed the underlying feminism subplot in it. It was all just so good and so entertaining and I’m pretty sure I’ll reread it and enjoy it many times again! Definitely one of my all time favourite HRs!!

5 stars

Now there’s something worth mentioning about this book, male heroes in HRs have some kind of reputation, but the hero in this one was, dare I say, sweet? Iain totally took me by surprise. He’s that alpha headstrong highlander who still have a soft spot for Judith.

I loved Judith. She was so freakin amusing and outspoken. I loved how she made a home for herself and how she fought for the women in the clan. The friendship between her and Frances Catherine was the best! These two made me jealous with how such great friends they are.

The book was so addicting to read. I was glued to my seat till I finished it. The dialogues were hilarious. I loved the feminist subplot and how lain was supporting Judith and her decisions. I loved all the side characters, they were amazing. This was such a cute fun HR that made me laugh and swoon a lot. I can already see myself reading it again.
Profile Image for Stacey.
1,446 reviews1,154 followers
January 7, 2021
Left me with a big goofy grin...

I feel like I would be repeating myself if I wrote a review for The Secret. This is by far one of my very favourite historical romances, and definitely, one of my top Julie Garwood reads/listens. The characters are awesome and I absolutely loved the friendship between two little girls who had no idea they should be enemies.

Ian is one of the best highlander heroes and I loved revisiting with him and his clan.

I'm sure I'll be back again next year.


This one will never get old. I will always love visiting the highlands and Judith and Ian's love story is one of my very favourites. I laughed, sniffled and sighed.

I'm sure I will be back again soon...ish...


The Secret wasn't such a secret after all.

I loved The Secret and after listening to it for the first time and re-reading it for the 20 billionth time, I think I love it more.

Judith is a strong and feisty English woman whose best friend is a Scot. When she's asked to attend her friends birthing of her first child, she does not hesitate to pack her bags.

Ian is Laird and as a favour to his brother offers to collect the English woman. Ian thinks his brother is daft giving in to his woman and scoffed at his devotion and need to make her happy.

When the two meet there is an instant attraction, but a Scottish Laird and an English lass is not a good alliance.

Judith has a secret that could ruin everything. Ian knows that by taking an English bride he's asking for trouble...but can't seem to stop himself. Only the two of them can decide if their love is worth the sacrifice.

I laughed so hard at this one and got some very strange looks on the train. I'm pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face for most this one.

The storyline is captivating, the characters lovable and the love story enough to make me sigh. I will definitely be listening to more in the future.

Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,249 followers
March 4, 2017
There was a lot to love about this book, but I think my favorite thing was the friendship between our heroine and her bestie. They grew up seeing each other once a year and had that kind of loyalty that only comes with being best girlfriends.

When our heroine's bestie, Frances Catherine, becomes pregnant, she calls upon our girl, Judith, to fulfill a promise she made to be there when the baby is born. This may seem like no big deal, but Judith is English and Frances Catherine is Scottish and in a clan of some very anti-English warriors. But, Judith is determined to be with her friend, so she sets off with Frances Catherine's brother-in-law to Scotland. He is the Laird of his clan, and pretty much as alpha as they come. You know how I usually feel about alpha-men: stabby, hate-filled anger. But, Iain is the sweetheart kind of alpha - all bossy, but adorable. Especially in his assumptions that his new wife (oh, yeah, they get married) will be all submissive. Ahaha! Men. They try, don't they?

Frances Catherine reacts to Judith's marriage with the perfect best-friend question:

"Are we happy about this marriage?"

Judith lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "I suppose we are."

Of course, Iain has already commanded Judith to be happy, so there really was no question about it.

"you will like being married to me, Judith. I command it."

Isn't it cute when they are all fierce?

The friendship between these two women starts a new fellowship between the other women of the clan. Before, they had all been too busy working their asses off all day, and never getting to know each other to build friendships. But, after seeing the friendship of these two, things start to change. Judith does a lot to lift up the women, and I love how her Laird husband supports her in every change.

There were a couple of times when I felt like Judith was too easily accepted, some problems were too easily solved, and all of the changes came too easily. But, it was still a very enjoyable story.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,129 reviews13.8k followers
May 28, 2020
HOW HAVE I NOT READ JULIE GARWOOD UNTIL NOW?!?! Seriously, I am a huge highlander romance fan and this book was everything. First, I loved how close Frances Catherine and Judith were. The first chapter where they met as children was so adorable and I loved their close bond. Because of that, Judith has to go to the highlands when Frances Catherine is pregnant to be by her side. However, during this time, the Scottish hate the English and they are not at all welcoming to them to come into their lands. I loved how Iain is laird but still went to escort Judith from England to Scotland because Frances Catherine is married to his brother. The moment they meet? FIREWORKS. Their relationship was just so perfect and I loved how they gave into their lust even though they were determined to hate each other. Judith has a fire about her and she's the perfect person to be with Iain.

While Iain is supposed to be this headstrong, stubborn highlander, he has a soft spot for Judith and I loved how he would do anything to protect her. This entire book had me swooning and I couldn't put it down. I am so excited to read even more from Julie Garwood and collect all of her books!
Profile Image for Dina.
1,324 reviews1,235 followers
July 2, 2011
This book grabbed from the Prologue, filled with both endearing and funny moments. In a few pages, Ms. Garwood had me loving Judith, the heroine, and her friend Frances Catherine. By the end of Chapter 2, I was also in love with Iain, the hero, and smiling like a silly girl. What a nice way to start a book!

Judith and Frances Catherine met as children and formed an unlikely friendship. Judith was English and Frances Catherine was Scottish, and everyone knew that English and Scottish hated each other... Well, everyone but Judith and Frances Catherine! Their friendship lasted through all the years, and now Frances Catherine was pregnant and wanted Judith by her side as promised years before, to help her with the birth of her child. Iain was the laird of the Maitland clan and Frances Catherine's brother-in-law, and the idea of having an Englishwoman as a guest in his lands didn't particularly sit well with him but he agreed to fulfill his sister-in-law's request - after all, he was an honorable man and he always put his family first, no matter what. So he set to England to fetch Judith and escort her to her friend's side, even though he expected her to dishonor her childhood promise and not go to Frances Catherine's. She was English, hence her word didn't mean anything, right? Well, Iain was more than surprised to find out his preconceived notions about Judith were wrong, not to mention a bit disturbed to see how she managed to enchant not only him but all of his men in no time. But she had a secret - yeah, the one the titles refers to - that could complicate a relationship between them, so she was determined to fight her attraction to him. Not that would make any difference, once Iain had his mind set on keeping her... ;)

Iain was just wonderful! Honorable, protective, caring and, oh yes, arrogant. He didn't ask, he demanded. His marriage proposal to Judith made me gasp, then laugh. It was so delicious and outrageous. "Judith, I'm keeping you." How could she argue with that? (LOL) And yet, he couldn't find a way to get her to understand the "chain of command" to be followed in his clan. But he was no fool when it came to Judith and didn't waste time trying to keep her at arm's lenght.

Judith was as great as Iain. Honorable, kind-hearted and smart. Stubborn too, because that was the only way she could meet Iain's arrogance. She wasn't afraid to stand her ground but she never acted like those stupid heroines who pick a fight with the hero just to show how "feisty" they are. She was above that. Seeing her argue her cases in her particular ilogical way of thinking was too funny. No wonder everyone always ended up agreeing with her.

Iain and Judith's love story was funny and sigh-worthy at the same time. I lost count of the times I laughed out loud - thankfully, there was no one else around or they would think I was crazy - or simply smiled in contentment. There were also a few angsty moments near the end of the book, but I never doubted that Iain would make everything right.

Now, I need to comment on the feeling of déjà vu that bugged me a little while I was reading it. In one particular sequence of events, I was reminded of A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught: when the little boy threw some stones at Judith, she protected him, settled the matter by herself and, in the process, gained the boy's mother's allegiance and respect. That had enough similarity with some events in McNaught's book to make me raise an eyebrow. Going further, Judith and the heroine in A Kingdom of Dreams also had some similar characteristics: both were somewhat mistreated by their own families, their fathers were their heroes' enemy and they only found their "place in the world" in their heroes' clans. Of course, there were several differences that kept the books apart, and The Secret was a very enjoyable read by its own merit. I already see myself rereading it over and over again in the future.
Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,074 reviews10.5k followers
May 26, 2020
Absolutely brilliant!! I can see why everyone adores this book so much and considers it a classic of historical romance. I truly loved everything about this book: Judith and her headstrong ways, Iain and his tenderness with Judith, the powerful, hilarious friendship between Judith and her best friend Frances, the feminist themes, the ridiculous wedding. Everything was PERFECT!
Profile Image for D.G..
1,365 reviews342 followers
December 30, 2010
This is my first book by Julie Garwood and it may be my last.

Yes, I enjoyed this book but I found it too cutesy and simplistic. I think that if it had been either a funny book or a dark book I would have enjoyed it more, but this mix of funny banter with very dark topics didn’t do it for me.

On one hand, you have very serious topics: dangers and fear of pregnancy (which is the first time I have read in a historical so I give the author kudos for that), battles between clans in Scotland, the hatred between the Scottish and the English. All of these represent a serious hurdle between the hero and the heroine (except the pregnancy because she wasn’t the pregnant one) but at the end all the problems are dissolved as if by magic just because the heroine is nice. She’s able to deliver babies and reassure fears even though she’s a hated Englishwoman with no practical experience. All of the formidable warriors fall at her feet overnight and the fearsome council becomes a gang of cute old guys. She’s even able to introduce changes about the way women are treated in the clan and everybody sees the justice of her arguments and agrees with her! As if justice or logic has anything to do with distrust and different customs among cultures. I compare this to an American woman going to a Muslim village, telling everybody they don’t treat women fairly and them agreeing and changing their way of life overnight! Do you really think this is likely?

So overall, this is a cute book with agreeable characters (a lot of nice women with husbands who loved them), and a nice heroine and a hunky highhanded hero who’s sweet at times. Not the worst I’ve read but not the best either.
Profile Image for Chantal ❤️.
1,361 reviews769 followers
February 10, 2017
This book was amazing!
I loved how possessive the hero was towards the heroine.
He would not let he ride with anyone else during their trip to the keep.
Omg he was just so sweet and he was loving.
Their chemistry was off the charts and the whole birthing rights and rituals was just great to read.
I had to look up everything.
Wow have we come a long way from these dark days.
The whole sin of eve thing was pissing me off.
It was those times I guess.
Still loved it.
Profile Image for Kristen.
834 reviews4,771 followers
January 6, 2013
Delightful 4 stars

The Secret was a delight to read. I was easily swept into Julie Garwood’s world of witty dialogue, enchanting characters, and feel good romance.

I did, however, find it difficult to feel the connection and chemistry between Iain's and Judith's characters during the first half of the book. In fact, at times I felt there was more chemistry between Judith and Brodick than between Judith and Iain. Fortunately, by the end of the story I was a firm believer in Judith's and Iain's relationship.

There is a reason I gave this book a higher rating than I normally would have, considering I was less than enchanted with the romantic element between the two main characters. I loved the richly developed and engaging relationships that Iain and Judith had with the secondary characters. The book’s cast of minor characters were spectacular and I easily fell in love with each and everyone one of them.

I especially loved the beautifully portrayed friendship between Judith and her best friend, Frances Catherine. Their friendship, in many ways, was the heart of the story and provided many of the books endearing moments.

I cannot end this review without raving about my favorite part of this book, the wedding scene. It was brilliantly and cleverly written and makes me laugh every time I think about it. By far the best written wedding scene I've read to date!

Over all, I enjoyed The Secret and would recommend it. Julie Garwood has a way of leaving me smiling and always wanting more.
Profile Image for Lady Nilambari Reads HR.
427 reviews112 followers
April 19, 2022
4.5 Stars

I've caught on to the Julie Garwood secret. Her books are familiar comfort food-esq romances. Like a hearty broth, you change a few ingredients here and there, but you always get a delicious result.

The beauty of simplicity...
- An engagingly written story
- An alpha warrior hero who is very sweet with the heroine
- A quirky heroine with the weirdest of idiosyncracies
- A charming romance
- A feudal subplot
- Grand displays of loyalty
- Wonderful side characters

*it's no Honour's Splendour (I believe nothing will ever come close to that), but this was a warm, cute story, and one reads JG books for just that, comfort.
Profile Image for Ainhoa.
382 reviews17 followers
December 29, 2022
Nothing like a reread of your favorites to get over your slump! ♥️

This one introduced me to HR and Julie Garwood will be forever amongst my favorites historical authors.

This one is outstanding for female friendship and hrumpy ass hero.
Profile Image for Dora  Koutsoukou.
1,874 reviews431 followers
December 13, 2022
2 😔😔⭐️s

The first couple of chapters were captivating and I thought this story would be a winner.
As the story progressed my expectations were diminished and in the end it turned out a miss for me.
The only thing that stood out was the friendship between Judith and Frances Catherine.

Judith’s personality was inconsistent, she didn’t impress me.
Iain was a very closed character, unsociable, his feelings were flat and left me indifferent. I didn’t like his behaviour towards Judith. It was abrupt, offensive and rude.

The romance was inadequate, the writing style didn’t have the appropriate energy as to grip me, there was a kind of closure but no epilogue.
Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,636 followers
February 18, 2014

5 bloody brilliant, hot Highland Laird stars!

Audio/Kindle/Paperback Review

Very rarely do I have the opportunity to read a book that isn't a review required read, but I needed something familiar, something comforting this past week, and so I chose to re-read/listen to this story.

I am so, so very glad I did!

I had read The Secret (paperback) years ago and never reviewed because I was on a Julie Garwood binge. Book after book, I didn't have time to stop and write down my thoughts because I couldn't stop reading long enough to do so. This story will always be a favorite read, but as a listen? It's amazing!

New York Times best-selling author Julie Garwood captures the Highland splendor of medieval Scotland in this breathtaking love story. The inspiration for her acclaimed bestseller Ransom, this classic tale is a passionate masterpiece from one of the best-loved storytellers of all time.

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.

In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain's searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!
My review...

Julie Garwood was my first venture into Historical Romance, and the genre became an instant favorite. I grabbed every single Garwood HR I could get my hands on, and wept when I learned she wasn't writing HR anymore.

Okay, maybe "wept" is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much!

When people ask what my favorite HR novel is, I always think of Garwood's books. The Prize, The Bride, The Wedding... it's hard to pick an all time favorite. But I can honestly say, The Secret is right up there on the list.

And I've fallen in love with it, all over again.

This past weekend I listened (and read along - Kindle) to Susan Duerden not just read the book, but perform it. Her incredible ability to let each character's unique personality shine through made this an absolute delight to experience.

The prologue is one of the best I had ever read, and now listening to Ms. Duerden bring the wee little girls, Judith and Frances Catherine to life... then bring them together again as grown women whose friendship passed the test of time and will inspire Lairds and clansmen... truly, I can't put into words how much I enjoyed this story. No, how much I LOVE this story! Every page, every sentence, every word...

The bottom line...

As I said, my reading time is precious to me and there isn't enough of it, but when I needed something familiar and comforting, I chose this book. That in itself should bear testament to how much I adore The Secret.

I sighed, I smiled, I laughed... the witty dialog and laugh out loud banter, the sexual chemistry... it captured my heart and made me fall in love with the obstinate Laird Iain Maitland and the adorable, equally obstinate Lady Judith, all over again.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,598 followers
February 8, 2016
*** 4 ***

A very sweet and pleasant Highlander Historical Romance! I enjoyed it exactly for what it was - a romance in a very difficult for women time. I know most of my GR friends get upset over the almost none existing female rights of those times and want all heroines to be strong, bold and independent, which would be absolutely absurd for their environment. Although I like the historical accurate portrayal of that, this book manages to successfully combine a close proximity to Historical accuracy with strong female characters. Yes, there is the insta-love thing, and the overbearing layered, as well as the very positive bias toward the Highlanders vs. the Brits, but as every devoted HR fanatic knows, this is only to be expected. And I am sure that every woman who has ever read a romance novel knows, the Scottish man, being from the highlands, lowlands or the border region, is the hottest, most virulent man in the world!!! Right? I am saving for a vacation there, so they better not disappoint me!

P. S., if I don't return from that vacation, don't worry - I will be well taken care of, so no search teams are necessary! But feel free to be jealous! :-)

Back to the book, I recommend it to all romantic saps like me:-) Have fun and enjoy a good book!!!
Profile Image for Katherine.
265 reviews158 followers
September 21, 2020
I wanted to read a Highlander romance 💗 you know, to help me get through Monday, so I decided to read this 😗. I prefer The Ransom, by Julie Garwood (which I read first, years ago)--I had no idea this was a series. 🤔

This was a fun read, albeit sometimes annoying the way the men act, but that's historical romance at times 😅 Still, despite possessive men, and archaic views the romance between the two main characters was fun.

I enjoyed the relationship between Judith and Frances Catherine the most, who were basically sisters from different misters 😀 I loved their dialogue together throughout the story. If your craving a Higlander romance this is a good place to start. 3.8🔥🔥🔥
Profile Image for Νόρα.
256 reviews19 followers
February 12, 2022
Δεν νομίζω πως θα μπορούσε να ξεκινήσει πιο ιδανικά η αναγνωστική χρονιά.Από τότε που οι εκδόσεις Elxis μου σύστησαν την Garwood,κάθε φορά που ανακοινώνουν το νέο τους πρόγραμμα ψάχνω το όνομά της.
Όσοι έχετε διαβάσει τις προηγούμενες κριτικές μου θα έχετε μια ιδέα τι επίδραση έχει πάνω μου η συγκεκριμένη,είναι η αγαπημένη μου συγγραφέας στο ρομαντικό μυθιστόρημα.Καλά όλες τις λατρεύω,αλλά η συγκεκριμένη είναι η αδυναμία μου.

Αναρωτιέμαι αν θα υπάρξει η πιθανότητα να βαθμολογήσω ένα βιβλίο αυτής της γυναίκας με λιγότερο από πέντε αστέρια,πραγματική πρόκληση,αν και δεν νομίζω να συμβεί.

Τα μυστικά ή μάλλον ένα μυστικό είναι το κύριο χαρακτηριστικό του βιβλίου.

Σε πολύ νεαρή ηλικία η Judith Hampton συνάντησε την Scottish Frances Catherine Kirkcaldy και η ζωή τους άλλαξε για πάντα.Δυο αθώα κορίτσια που κανένα δεν γνώριζε ότι έπρεπε να ήταν εχθροί σφυρηλάτησαν μια δια βίου φιλία.

Με τα χρόνια η φιλία τους όχι μόνο κράτησε,αλλά έγινε και πιο ισχυρή. Η Judith έδωσε μια υπόσχεση στην καλύτερη της φίλη,ότι όταν ήταν θα έρθει ο καιρός να γίνει μητέρα για πρώτη φορά θα βρίσκεται στο πλάι της.Αλλά υπάρχει και ένα πρόβλημα. Η Judith είναι Αγγλίδα και η Scottish Frances είναι παντρεμένη με τον αδερφό ενός Σκωτσέζου άρχοντα.Έτσι οι Χαιλάντερς επωμίζονται το καθήκον να φέρουν την Judith στην Σκωτία και δεν είναι καθόλου χαρούμενοι.Πολύ περισσότερο γιατί πιστεύουν ότι η Αγγλίδα δεν θα κρατήσει την υπόσχεσή της.

Ξαφνιάζονται όταν φτάνουν στην Αγγλία και η Judith είναι έτοιμη και πρόθυμη να πάει.Ο αρχηγός της φατρίας είναι εκείνος που εκπλήσσεται πιο πολύ από όλους.Όχι μόνο από το γεγονός ότι μια Αγγλίδα κρατάει το λόγο της αλλά και από την ομορφιά της.

Ξέρει ότι υπάρχουν πάρα πολλές επιπλοκές και δεν μπορεί να την κρατήσει,ειδικά επειδή η φυλή του βρίσκεται σε αναταραχή και αφού μόλις ορίστηκε άρχοντας.Αυτό όμως δεν κατευνάζει τα συναισθήματά του.

Δεν είναι μόνο εκείνος έκπληκτος,η Judith εκπλήσσεται όταν βλέπει τον άρχοντα της φίλης της.Ποτέ δεν περίμενε ότι θα ήταν αυτός που θα την φέρει .. ή να είναι τόσο όμορφος.Αν και προσπαθεί να το καταπολεμήσει,δεν μπορεί να κάνει αλλιώς,παρά μόνο να παραδεχθεί ότι την ελκύει.Καθώς ταξιδεύουν στα Highlands,βρίσκει τον εαυτό της εντελώς κάτω από το ξόρκι του.

Η πρωταγωνίστρια δεν είχε εύκολη ζωή και τα πράγματα δεν καλυτερεύουν όταν φτάνει στη Σκωτία.Έχει μια μυστική αποστολή και ένα μυστικό που δεν θα αποκαλύψω,αξίζει να το ανακαλύψτε μόνοι σας.

Λάτρεψα για ακόμα μια φορά το πρωταγωνιστικό ζευγάρι που μου σύστησε.Η Judith ήταν δυναμική και έλεγε την άποψή της και ότι ο Ian την υποστήριξε.

Η σχέση τους περνάει από πολλές παρεξηγήσεις,αμφιβολίες,διλήμματα,εξελίσσεται όμως διαρκώς και ωριμάζει σταδιακά μέσα από κάθε κοινό τους βίωμα,ώσπου να φτάσει στο σημείο εκείνο όπου πια το «για πάντα μαζί» φαντάζει απόλυτα σωστό.

Οι χαρακτήρες είναι καλογραμμένοι,δουλεμένοι με πιστότητα και προσοχή,κάτι που αποδεικνύεται από το πώς αυτοί εξελίσσονται στην πορεία της αφήγησης.Προσωπικότητες πολυεπίπεδες και χαρισματικές,που ξεδιπλώνονται και εκπλήσσουν με κάθε εξέλιξη και νέα ανατροπή.

Η Garwood δεν γράφει απλά ρομαντικές ιστορίες,ένα χαρακτηριστικό της που εκτιμώ πολύ είναι το χιούμορ,οι διάλογοι είναι διασκεδαστικοί.

Για άλλη μια φορά η Garwood μετέτρεψε το ταξίδι στα υπέροχα Χάιλαντς σε μια μαγική εμπειρία.

Ένα από τα πιο δυνατά σημεία της συγγραφέως είναι οι εξαιρετικές περιγραφές – των πάντων.Γλαφυρές,παραστατικές,χρησιμοποιώντας με επιτυχία όλα τα «όπλα» του γραπτού λόγου, αποτυπώνουν με ζηλευτή φροντίδα,επιμέλεια και ζωντάνια στις σελίδες του εικόνες που μοιάζουν να αποκτούν πνοή και να ζωντανεύουν μπροστά στα μάτια του αναγνώστη.

Οι περιγραφές της συγγραφέως που αφορούν τη φύση και την ομορφιά της Σκοτίας,θα σας κάνουν σίγουρα να σκεφτείτε να κάνετε ένα ταξιδάκι προς εκείνα τα μέρη.Η αφήγηση της είναι πολύ μεστή.Σε ταξιδεύει και μπορεί να μην στάθηκα τυχερή μέχρι τώρα και να επισκεφτώ τη Σκωτία,αλλά η Garwood με πήγε ένα ταξίδι με τον τρόπο της.

Βυθίστηκα στις σελίδες του και διψούσα κυριολεκτικά για το επόμενο κεφάλαιο.

Είχα ένα πλάνο να διαβάσω κάποια βιβλία με μια συγκεκριμένη σειρά,αλλά με το που είδα το όνομα της στα προσεχώς τα άφησα στην άκρη.

Ευτυχώς επέλεξαν τριλογία και θα διαβάσουμε άλλα δυο φέτος.Θέλω το δεύτερο της σειράς,χθες.
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,548 reviews3,989 followers
July 29, 2017
3.5 Stars

Overall Opinion: This wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be. I didn't dislike it, but I just didn't love it either. The prologue sucked me in right from the start! The girls' friendship was too cute and I was so excited to continue on the story. It has to be one of the best prologues I've read in a while! The friendship amongst the women (and a few of the elders) was definitely the highlight of the story for me. I felt like the romance was off to great start, but then quickly took a backseat to the clan and family drama going on. That was a definite bummer, because I really enjoyed the H at first but he seemed to just fizzle out for me. The ending felt way too abrupt too, and where was my beloved epilogue?!

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Judith and Iain story. The meet when Iain is sent to get Judith from England to bring her back to the highlands to help with his sister-in-law's birthing. He is distrustful of the English woman at first, but quickly cannot deny that his initial judgments were too hasty. They quickly are unable to fight their strong attraction to each other, and share a few unexpected kisses. The more time they spend together, the more they cannot deny the pull they feel towards one another and fall in love. There is some clan and family drama, a few sexy times, and some funny moments...and they get a HEA ending.

POV: This alternated between focusing on Judith and Iain in 3rd person narrative.

Overall Pace of Story: Good. The ending did feel abrupt, but otherwise I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well.

Instalove: No, they take a while to develop stronger feelings.

H rating: 3.5 stars. Iain. I loved him at first, but (like I said above) he just fizzled out to me and became kind of ...meh.

h rating: 5 stars. Judith. I loved her! She was awesome! She was strong, smart, funny, and loyal.

Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Decent. They have decent tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story. It could've been better imo 🤷🏻‍♀️

Descriptive sex: Yes

OW/OM drama: No

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: No

Possible Triggers: Yes, but mild

Closure: This had pretty good closure, but I would've liked a jump ahead glimpse into their future. There was no epilogue, and those that follow my reviews know that doesn't work for me!! I would, however, call this a HEA ending.

How I got it: I got it on loan through my public library and Amazon.

Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
Profile Image for Floripiquita.
1,378 reviews161 followers
March 24, 2021
No había leído nada de Julie Garwood y gracias al #RetoRita5 #RitaGarwood he descubierto a una autora que me ha gustado mucho y de la que pienso seguir leyendo más libros.

El secreto es una bonita historia que transcurre en Escocia, en la época medieval, y muestra cómo era vivir en un clan en las Highlands, tanto lo bueno, ese sentimiento de pertenencia, como lo malo: las guerras entre clanes, el odio entre ingleses y escoceses, la superchería, el poder que ostentaba la Iglesia y, sobre todo, el casi nulo papel que tenían las mujeres en la comunidad, más allá de ser madres y esposas.

Me ha encantado la amistad incondicional entre Judith y Frances Catherine y también la relación amorosa entre la pareja protagonista, pero sobre todo el carácter feminista que la autora le da a la protagonista femenina y cómo esta lucha contra los convencionalismos de la época. Y aunque creo que le sobran algunas páginas, se trata de un libro muy recomendable.

#popsugar21 Reto 30: Un libro ambientado en algún lugar que te gustaría visitar en 2021
Profile Image for Karen.
810 reviews1,026 followers
February 26, 2021

"There will be flowers..."

Loved it. Which was not a surprise to me. I have read Garwood before, and loved her other books as well. The heroine did start out a little immature in her behavior but the character developed nicely as the story progressed. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,993 reviews870 followers
January 23, 2020
The Secret takes us back into time to the Scottish Highlands, medieval time period. Where we have Judith Hampton who is English, but never knew her father, except for his ring, and her mother not caring one whit about her welfare. Having gone from different relatives homes, and now a grown up woman, has studies childbirth for her closest and best friend Frances Catherine, who is married to the brother of Laird Maclean. So when the Iain's goes to retrieve Judith on behalf of his brother and his wife, he never expected to find her so beautiful. Iain is used to obedience as being the leader of his clan, however Judith clashes her will with his on every occasion they are together, not used to such defiance, Iain is quite intrigued by this English woman, whom he desires for himself, but knows its complicated to do so, especially since his clan despises the English, however Judith is another story althogether, for she is nothing like the weak willed English he has known. Judith only mission was to come to her friend Frances Catherine's rescue, and help her give birth, but never realizing how much she ached for Iain tender embrace and passionate kissing and knows that she is falling in love with this Scottish Laird, who would surely hate her once he knew who her father truly was, but will he still love her when he finds out the truth? And will there be a happily ever after?

The Secret is another favorite of mine to read from Julie Garwood, I just love her scottish historicals they are my favorite books of her that I love to read from. In The Secret we have Judith who is English and at this time in History the Scots and the English hate each other. So when Iain brings her to his clan, at first Judith is considered a outsider to his clan. However as things progress throughout the story we see that she starts to make her home in the clan and with Iain. Where both Iain and Judith will find a glorious and passionate love in each other that they never expected to find. I found that Julie Garwood, especially in The Secret, brings to life the magic and adventure of this time period in the Highlands. With wonderful characters that will charm and delight you, and a plot that will only entice you into reading more and more of this wonderful author!!
Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews314 followers
September 11, 2017
Sigh!!! This was magnificent!!! I hadn't done a highlander book in a long while. The story was adorable. The writing was funny and the characters were endearing. Lovely!!!
Profile Image for Debbie DiFiore.
2,135 reviews224 followers
September 21, 2023
Love The Secret

March has been a bleak month for me so I have been rereading my favorite books. This one is so cute. I love the scene where the two girls meet. It is so sweet. And their friendship is such a major part of the book. And the hero is just wonderful. You can see him falling in love with her as they travel to Scotland and she of course is too. I like her strength and bravery throughout the whole book. She is a great heroine. Julie Garwood's books are like candy to me. I can't get enough of her characters. They are good people. People I would like to know . And the romance is very passionate without being crude. I feel it. I definitely love this author. I may try some of her !mystery novels too. This is a safe read.
Profile Image for Arini.
857 reviews1,774 followers
December 10, 2021
i thought that the female friendship was going to win me over, but im rather ~underwhelmed~ by everything in this book. the characters were so darn agreeable and nice. not that the people of the clan werent wary of the h at first, but they were quickly charmed by her. i dug that the h stood up for womens rights and everything, but her character didnt really stand out to me.

also, i was rather disappointed by the Hs eagerness or willingness to marry the h. he was like, “i fancy you, so i shall marry you and you will be happy to be my wife.” JGs heroes were usually rather reluctant about falling in love and the H here didnt seem to be. he was also... sweet—not as cold or gruff as the other JG heroes ive read. not a bad thing. just not my preference either.

(read as an audiobook)
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,110 reviews6,576 followers
June 10, 2017
*2.5 STARS*
I loved how the main character stood up for women's rights and everything, but there was literally no plot and it was hella boring :(
August 1, 2016
20 years ago all I read was historical romance. Unfortunately I can't remember any of them except Gone with the Wind.
So here I am a romance addict and I'm just now discovering Julie Garwood and all about the Alpha perfection of Scottish Highlanders. Iain just did it for me from the start. Brooding yet tender and kind. Funny and temperamental too. This story grabbed me at the prologue because one of my favorite things about any story is friendships between women. The secrets and bonds they share and how these bonds are strong enough to withstand distance and animosity. Judith is probably my favorite heroine I've read in a very long time. Today's heroines aren't always very womanly because it's almost a bad word to need a man for anything. I'm old fashioned and I'm not ashamed of that. I like a strong man who can lead and protect and provide. Yet he cherishes and respects his woman always. The humor in this story really surprised me. I laughed out loud so often I had tears. Judith really embodied a true lady with strength and class. Grace under fire for sure. The way one woman.. Changed the hearts of every single person she touched just warned me all the way through. I have been in a romance fog since I started this story yesterday. I'm only wishing I had more time to just binge read this author. This will definitely be a favorite of mine forever.
Profile Image for Dina.
1,324 reviews1,235 followers
July 2, 2014
Opening line: They became friends before they were old enough to understand they were supposed to hate each other.

That's got to be one of loveliest opening lines ever, and everything that came afterwards was as delightful as that. A true keeper that only gets better every time I reread it.
Profile Image for Bex (Beckie Bookworm).
2,018 reviews1,319 followers
January 17, 2023

I love a good Scottish historical romance and this one ticked all of my boxes. Low on angst but intense on the emotion this was such a breath of fresh air. It’s an older one but has definitely aged well and I raced through this in record time. This brought all of the feel-good vibes and left me with a warm glow.

Frances Catherine and Judith meet as children at an annual festival on the border. Too young to realise the constraints on their potential friendship. One English the other Scottish the two form a lifelong bond. Frances Catherine now living as a Maitland upon her marriage and fearing the birth ahead calls upon a promise made long ago by her childhood confidant to attend her in her confinement.

The Maitland clan are set in their ways and doesn’t welcome outsiders into their midst often but an exception is made for Judith though the clan's council and current Laird don’t believe she’ll honour her promise and that it will be a wasted journey. It’s with this in mind and being Francis Catherine’s brother-in-law that Iain the current Laird undertakes the talk of collecting the English woman.

Judith's life isn’t a bed of roses she is forced to spend six months of the year with a cruel disinterested mother and an abusive uncle. The remaining six she spends with her other aunt and uncle who were warm and loving. When she discovers on her eleventh birthday that she’s been lied to her whole life the only person she confides in is her dear friend Frances Catherine and she’s spent the last few years uncovering all she can on the subject of childbirth to assist her friend.

I liked Judith she had an uncomplicated and warm manner. She’s a good person and wears her heart on her sleeve. Like a lot of these older historical’s she was rather easily hurt and quite naive but I found that actually adorable. Iain by contrast was your typical alpha male. Infallible in all things. He could be quite chauvinistic and arrogant but he was thankfully tempered with the ability to adapt and change when needed. He’s definitely a man’s man and was all smouldering intense looks and the need to protect what he considers his.

This definitely had the gender roles firmly defined but considering it was set in the year 1200 it seemed authentic to the times. I also loved how Iain was patience personified and incredibly gentle with Judith both physically and emotionally he could be a real poppet and was prepared to do what he needed to and protect his wife. He also wasn’t one for flying off the handle either which I did appreciate.

This isn’t a story of high angst which was another plus point. There’s no OW drama and this relies on its simplicity and feel-good vibe which worked. There is a secret here that Judith does keep close to her chest that could potentially affect her future within the clan but considering Iain discovers this information quite early on but doesn’t inform her it wasn’t really a real roadblock to their future happiness and if anything it only made Iain want to protect Judith more vehemently. The chemistry between Judith and Iain was scorching and felt believable. As a couple, I did like these two a great deal.

This also had some lovely female solidarity which was nice and I did love the friendship forged by Judith and Frances Catherine and then later other women in the clan. This was dual POV and had an easy writing style all in all if you like yourselves a Scottish historical romance with plenty of heart this one definitely delivers the goods.

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Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm
Profile Image for emtee.
183 reviews59 followers
April 18, 2022

All the stars!

I cannot remember the last time I smiled and swooned so much while reading a book and I’m now convinced that no one writes swoony, feel-good historical romance like Julie Garwood 😍 This is definitely my favorite JG so far. There was just so much to love about this book, I simply didn’t want it to end…

Some of my favorite quotes:

(Judith and Frances Catherine when they were little girls who had just met)
Because Judith was so determined to impress her new friend, she didn’t think about the consequences any longer. She reached out to slap the bee, but as soon as she felt the flutter of its wings against the palm of her hand, it tickled her so she instinctively closed her fingers. Then she started wailing. Frances Catherine bounded off the rock to help the only way she knew how. She started wailing, too. Judith ran around and around the rock, screaming so vigorously she could barely catch her breath. Her friend chased after her, screaming just as fiercely, though in sympathy and fear rather than in pain.

(Judith’s first interaction with Iain and his warriors)
No one said a word for a long, long while. They all rudely stared at her. She couldn’t stop herself from rudely staring back, though her attention was centered solely on their leader. She didn’t think she’d ever seen such a magnificent sight in all her life. The man fascinated her. He was certainly the biggest of the lot. His broad shoulders fairly blocked out the sun shining down behind him, and only rays of light surrounded him, giving him an invincible, magical appearance.

He finally looked down at her. Judith’s breath caught in her throat. Dear Lord, he had beautiful eyes. It was a mistake, asking him to give her his full attention, she decided, because his penetrating gaze robbed her of her concentration.

(I love love loved how utterly besotted Iain’s big tough warriors were with Judith, and how much it rankled him)
Several minutes passed before Brodick spoke again. “Let me know, Iain.” “Let you know what?” “If you’re going to keep her or not.” “And if I’m not?” “Then I am.”

Judith reached the clearing and then stopped. Iain didn’t understand why she was hesitating until he turned and noticed his men had all extended their hands to her. Each was beckoning her forward.
“She’s riding with me.”

They spent the last night in a beautiful forest called Glennden Falls. Birch, pine, and oak trees were so thick in the area, the horses could barely get through the narrow path. A mist, more white than gray, and nearly waist high in some spots, floated around the greenery, giving an air of magic to the paradise.

“This is what I envision Heaven to be, Iain,” she told him. He seemed surprised, took a good look around him, and then, in his arrogant way, said, “Perhaps.” It was evident the man had never taken the time to appreciate the beauty around him. She told him so. He gave her a long, thorough look that started at the top of her head and ended at the tips of her boots. He moved forward, gently touched the side of her face, and then said, “I’m noticing all right.”

When you’re next in the mood for an enchanting, sweet, sexy romance with wonderful characters, great world-building and a love that will make you smile, I highly recommend The Secret!
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