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4.3 out of 5 stars16
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 24 July 2002
England 1066, we all know what happened then right? William the Conqueror rules England and the Normans quell the Saxon rebels. Our story is that of an Norman Warlord charged by the new King to bring a Saxon Lady, the rebellious and not so gentle woman Lady Nicholaa to court to be chosen as a bride by one of the Kings knights. Being courageous and stubborn, said bride Lady Nicholaa who has vowed never to recognise Norman rule gives her Norman exhort much trouble on the journey despite the fact that she feels a strange attraction to this unsmilingly gruff rugged warrior, Baron Royce.
This is a humdinger of a novel. If you like character rather than event driven historical novels that concentrate of the relationship between the central characters, you will love this book which is essentially about coming to terms with marriage and the changes and compromised necessary to blend to very different characters together. Nicolaa's combination of innocence and stubbornness is enchanting and Royce gives us a hero with a wry sense of humour, the required gruff exterior and of course a heart of gold. The dialogue is very funny and I have to admit I laughed out loud once or twice which is very rare for me. It's a very sensual read a really good love story with an attaching array of secondary characters. Norman meets Saxon, man meets woman, Venus meets Mars ... whatever, always makes for a great story!
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on 22 March 2010
I recently took this book on holiday with me after reading the 5 star reviews posted on Amazon and all I can say is WHY? HOW? and oh how bored and disappointed I was. Hoping to be transported to an aqe of danger, conflict and intrigue that must have been post Norman conquest England; anyone would have been hard pressed to know what country this was set in never mind what century. No one expects Eleventh century language but authors must avoid obvious 20th/21st century and American idioms. At first I laughed at the trite, repetative dialogue(tried to chill out being on holiday) but it became so tedious and so WRONG, WRONG, WRONG that the book was thrown down in exasperation!

The last straw was when the female character said, "AT LEAST HE HAD HIS PANTS ON" Firstly, in England "Pants" mean "underpants", "knickers" "underwear" and I don't think the author meant he was standing there in his "briefs". "Pants" only means "trousers" in American English. Secondly the Normans did not wear trousers, no-one did for about seven hundred years! He should have been standing there in his "Hose". Surely more sexy than "Pants".

Perhaps more importantly I found there to be a total lack of suspence, no sense of real danger, and I never felt the characters were in any peril. Neither could I care whether the very annoying Nicolaaaaa and the totally forgetable Norman knight would eventually be in full accord, she a totally unsympathetic twit and he a cardboard cut-out. Infact there was not one real person among the whole lot of them.

For those of you who want a reasonably researched medieval romance but most of all a passionate, heartstoppingly exciting book full of wonderful characters who you will route for, cry over, laugh with and fall in love with, read Judith McNaught's "A KINGDOM OF DREAMS". If you ever go back to Julie Garwood afterwards I shall eat my copy of "The Prize" Oh wait I can't I left it in my hotel room.
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on 9 January 2008
It's England and it's 1066, which means that the Normans are coming, and the Saxons are doomed. Except if you happen to be our Heroine Nicholaa, a courageous, crafty, spontaneous young woman who is the Prize that the title refers to. She has become quite the legend at King William's Court because thus far she managed to fight off 3 of the King's warriors that were trying to get her to surrender her keep and her lands. Her parents are long dead, her younger brother is at his death bed in a nearby abbey, and her older brother is off fighting the Conqueror in the North so she has to use whatever methods are at her disposal to defend herself and her people (including her sling - she is a mighty shot and she never misses.)

The book opens with attempt number 4 by the Normans who are being led this time by one of the King's Favorites, Royce. He is a warrior and he trains William's men in the arts of war. He is also our Hero, which means that this time she will fail and her keep will finally fall into Norman hands. But not before outsmarting him one last time - he didn't count with her faithful servants who help her to get away to the safety of the Abbey where her brother is - she dresses up as a nun and pretends to be her own twin. He soon finds out about the deceit and figures out a way of getting her out of the Abbey so he can take her to the Court, where the Lords will have a chance to fight for the Prize - whoever gets her gets not only gets one of the most beautiful women in England but also a wealthy one.

Over the time they spend together on the way to London, they come to appreciate each other: he finds himself admiring her struggles and failed attempts to escape and she appreciates his sense of honor and the fact that he never seems to loose his patience with her or with any of his subordinates. At this point, they are half way through falling in love with each other and it's not a surprise when Nicholaa, after winning the Queen's respect and given the chance to choose a husband, picks Royce. "Checkmate" she says, alluding to the game of wits they have been playing for the past weeks.

What happens next is the good old battle of the sexes where each has its own views on what their place in the world should be. Royce sees marriage as a map: ordained, organized, where everyone has a duty. His is to protect his wife, her family, his men. Hers is to give him peace by following his rules: to obey his orders without questioning, to not raise her voice, to not allow spontaneous actions to rule her decisions and to not weep - each and every single one she fails miserably to comply with which leads to funny and endearing moments of endless lectures by Royce while she daydreams about love and family traditions and how to make their marriage a happy one.

It was great fun to follow these two and see them slowly but surely fall in love with each other. But the love story was not the only amazing element in this book. The historical research was spot on: the conflicts between Norman and Saxon's traditions, the insurgency growing in the North and even the description of King William's relationship with his wife Matilda which seems to have been one of genuine respect and love. There were other subplots that also kept me entertained: the growing friendship between Royce and her younger brother Justin who was struggling to find his new place in the new order of things, her fear that at some point there would be a deadly clash between her older brother and her husband - what would her place be then? Is she a traitor of her people by accepting her fate so easily and falling in love with the enemy?

I loved The Prize and this is one of those books that I will be coming back to in a rainy afternoon when all you want to do is to get a cuppa and a blanket and sit down with a comfort read. And I am definitely going to carry on reading Julie Garwood's historicals
Highly recommended
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on 9 November 2013
Having just finished a book about the Holocaust, I decided to pick up something which was a bit easier to read. A historical romance always does the trick, and you can never go wrong with a Julie Garwood book. She's actually the author who introduced me to historical romance a few years ago, although it wasn't with this book.

The story of 'The Prize' is set in the year 1066. It's the time of William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest of England. It's also a time where women of 40 years old were considered old and where women were expected to obey their husbands at all time.

The hero, Royce, is a Norman baron wheras Nicholaa, the heroine, is a Saxon lady. I liked both characters, but my favorite was Nicholaa. She's strong-willed, courageous and she's not afraid to stand up to the men and speak her mind. This results in quite a bit of bickering at the beginning of the story, but it's actually quite fun to read and it often made me laugh out loud.

There is also space in the book for Nicholaa's 2 brothers, although I kind of had the feeling their stories were unfinished at the end. I would have like to see more details about Justin's life and until the very end, I was expecting a confrontation with Thurston, ending that storyline as well. However, that part of the story gets an open ending...

Nonetheless, it's a fun read which made me both laugh and cry. Julie Garwood really knows what she's doing and her books are a perfect introduction into the world of historical romance!
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on 11 April 2001
a friend lent me this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time I read it and vowed that I would buy it one day. It's not too sloppy and has a good amount of humour. A brilliant escape read!
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on 16 February 2005
this was the first garwood book i read. i love medieval england, well books set in that period anyway. garwood is the reason that i started looking for medieval romances, she has wrote a lot of books and i havnt read one that i didnt like. dont think she could write a bad book if she tried. got this threw amazon as havnt seen it in shops near me.
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on 19 February 2015
This excessively steamy romance has some nice character honesty and relationship development, but historical fiction fans will be disappointed in the unfortunate lack of any real sense of the culture at the time. Altogether though , not bad.
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on 19 March 2013
the book starts well , a lot of action, very promising. but then about the half way the heroine starts to get so very annoying, too sugary sweet. the worst julie garwood book i`ve read.
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on 31 March 2016
This is another great story by this author. I really enjoyed Nicholaa and Royce's story. This author is making me become addicted to historical romance novels.
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on 2 January 2014
Really enjoyable medieval story. Great characters as always in this author's books. Well worth reading and a very pleasant way to spend some free time.
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