Saturday, August 4, 2012

New Review: Judith James’ BROKEN WING - Historical Romance at its Best! A Sweeping Shipboard Saga—a Keeper!

This was Judith James first historical romance and it is wonderful. Rich in the history of the times (late 1700s/early 1800s), it takes place in France and England with stops in the Mediterranean and North Africa, it will sweep you away with an enthralling story of love, hardship, inner strength, forgiveness, acceptance and joy of life. I think the heroine may be my favorite of all time: beautiful, intelligent, creative, a rebel with a past. Oh yes. But the hero, Gabriel, is to die for. You will love him, I promise.

It begins in Paris where a young boy, Gabriel, is left at a brothel and raised to pleasure both men and women. We learn in backstory that he was sold to a sick aristocrat, who educated the handsome boy and taught him music at which he excels. But when Gabriel tried to escape he was "disciplined" and returned to the brothel. Years later, having become most attractive to both men and women, and one of the brothel's most prized possessions, he so hates himself he cuts his arms to remind himself he is alive. He has only one thing keeping him there...he saves another boy from ending up like him, protecting young Jamie against any who would rob the child of his innocence. As it turns out, Jamie is the young brother of an English nobleman who learns where the boy is and comes for him along with his sister, Sarah, Lady Munroe--"the Gypsy Countess."

Sarah is a most unusual woman, who thinks more like a man and often dresses like one. Thankful for Gabriel's protection of the boy, she and her brother contract with Gabriel for him to return with them to England for a year to help settle Jamie. During that time, the family comes to appreciate Gabriel's honorable nature, his intelligence and his character. Sarah, who can see into Gabriel's soul, longs to heal his many hurts. In the process, she and Gabriel share a love for the night sky, music and the ocean. And Sarah and Gabriel fall deeply in love. Gabriel, who has trains as a seaman and a swordsman with Sarah's cousin, Davey, a privateer captain, decides to go with Davey to the Mediterranean in order to earn enough money to support Sarah. They marry secretly before he leaves. On the trip home, Davey's ship encounters a horrible storm and Gabriel is feared lost overboard. Sarah is told he is dead. Ah, but Gabriel lives though in the next few years, as he tries to gain his freedom, his life becomes hard and he becomes ruthless. At this point, I wondered if they would ever be together again...but thank God it's a romance, right?

James is meticulous in detail and the historical setting is rich, accurate and absorbing. She tells the tale through many "points of view" and I found that refreshing. I loved knowing what all the characters were thinking and she did it very well. The characters are well developed and varied. You will love Davey the pirate/privateer, Ross the older brother who is a pirate at heart...and so many others along the way. James will become a "keeper" author, there is no doubt about it. I highly recommend this one.

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