18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Second Chance at a Wonderful Book,
This review is from: Saving Grace (Mass Market Paperback)
I've spent the past week in a happy Julie Garwood book re-reading daze. I whizzed through eight of her historicals and left Saving Grace for last. For some reason I had convinced myself that Saving Grace was good - but not great - and that the novel wasn't as strong as say, The Secret, Ransom, or Honor's Splendour. I couldn't have been more wrong. The more I read, the more enchanted I became. Saving Grace deals with a very serious issue (domestic abuse) and I think this is why I rushed through it during the first read. However, I now realise that it's a super book with absolutely lovable characters, and a fine addition to the Scottish Laird / English Lady Garwood books.
Lady Johanna is simply wonderful; she enters the book as quite shy and scared as she has been beaten many times by her deceased first husband and yet she still manages to hold her own with Laird Gabriel. I liked it that first of all Johanna had difficulty fitting in with her new clan - any woman would be vulnerable and untrusting at first if they had experienced Johanna's past and yet she becomes stronger and braver with each day that passes. Johanna is actually very clever and analytical, as well as being sweet and kind hearted. Gabriel is off the chart as a hero. What is so special about him is that as well as being strong and brave he is also very sensitive to Johanna's feelings and never treats her cruelly - in fact he is very considerate and kind as he tries to earn her trust (without being soppy). Gabriel was stigmatised as being illegitimate when he was younger and had a hard upbringing and I think this is part of the reason why he suits Johanna so well. I especially liked the way that the author told you about how vulnerable Gabriel felt as a boy and how he dreamed about having a lovely wife and home as it showed a softer side to the powerful Laird. Johanna and Gabriel are clearly perfect for each other. There are great secondary characters too. Auggie (an old man obsessed with golf), Alex (a boy Gabriel claims as his son), and Dumphries (a dog Gabriel rescued) all have their own unique personalities and quirks.
The plot is great. It gives you some information about the horrible ways that women were restrained and abused in the past without going into too many details. There is plenty of hilarious dialogue between Johanna and Gabriel and Johanna comes out with loads of funny sayings (There's more than one way into a keep!). The ending ties up the loose ends nicely and the reader has no trouble in imagining Johanna and Gabriel living as a happy, passionate married couple for the rest of their lives. Sigh! :-)