‘The Bride’ by Julie Garwood

tb jgSTORY: By the king’s edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jamie the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior’s spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her…forever.

But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against — an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie’s life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer her senses.

REVIEW: I read this book decades ago [this is the first book in Lairds’ Fiancées series] and thought to revisit it once more but in audio.tb jg o Let me say this up front. My love of romance started with Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood so I’m a huge fan. However, sometimes what has been written and read decades ago, can be quite different from reading it today. I’m so happy to report that this story was even better today than years ago. I loved everything about it, especially Rosalyn Landor. She made the words written come alive. Her accent was spot on, be it English or Scotts.

As for characters, all were three dimensional and complex, especially the heroine, Jamie.  Her sweetness and lovability was contagious. You can’t help but like this self-deprecating and self-sacrificing character. She was adorable.

On the other hand, I had some doubts about Alec. At the start of the story we see a lot of arrogance, but as the story develops, we get to know him better and to like him more. He was strong yet caring of his clan and especially of his English wife. Wonderful Alpha male with some sensitive beta hero characteristics.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun and funny medieval romance. The author made me believe in these two and their story. I was vested in them but the mystery within made me a bit antsy. Thank God it all worked out!

Years after it’s written, this story still stands strong. Highly recommending!

Melanie for b2b

Outlander Ep. 107 ‘The Wedding’

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I don’t need to say that this post is FILLED with SPOILERS, do I?! 

Well it took me long enough to get this post together my bookworms!

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I know I’m Outlander obsessed but I must admit I had to let go of this obsession for just a bit this week. You know, my Dude’s birthday one day and our 14th wedding anniversary the next, kind of pushed the TV out of our sphere. But I did get to see the episode and here I am to let you all know my thoughts about it.

Outlander 2014The episode was filmed in a non-linear structure, so we get the ending first, and through flashbacks we see the start and the middle. I actually loved it. The first thought that popped in my head watching it, was how nice it was to have Jamie’s point of view, even though it’s Jamie telling Claire of what he did to prepare for their wedding. I’m hoping now that they are together, we’ll be seeing more and more of that, and by the previews of the next episode, it looks like we’ll get to see even Frank’s point of view, and that REALLY makes me happy.

o107 (2)I’m not going to rehash this episode for you, for frankly, if you Google it, you’ll come up with hundreds of those and some are really very good and funny too. No, I’m just going to get on to the good stuff here and do my own “non-linear” review, ok?

Yes, this is the episode that we finally see two strangers get married and while we know and can tell that Jamie is in love with Claire [if you haven’t seen the show, you’re missing on Sam Heughan’s awesome facial expressions and lovelorn looks at the o107bwoman!], we know that she may be infatuated by him, but not really in love. She still pines for her Frank and despite this hastily put together wedding of convenience for all parties concerned [Dougal too!], she is having a hell of a time accepting the situation. Her guilt is eating her out, and watching Caitriona Balfe play that guilt is fascinating, to say the least! These are very complex characters in a very complex situation and throughout the episode I just focused on their faces as the story developed, and people, I have to say, sometimes words are not necessary at all. If you have actors of this caliber and know how to use them, holy crap, the end result is brilliant!

o107aWatching Claire’s struggle with her feelings for Frank and her growing attraction for Jamie, all in her face?! I can’t even put into words how sad it made me feel. I was heartbroken for her. All I wanted to do is give her a hug!

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This episode was like a painting come to life. The lighting throughout was soft, hazy and then it just got a bit brighter as we unwrapped the bride, which followed with more mood lighting in the church and the bridal chamber. And speaking of the bridal chamber let me say this right up front. I have never, ever seen an erotic scene filmed in such a way that it made my heart stop and flutter. It was pure magic watching two people not have sex but make love. Thanks to Anne Kenney’s writing and Anna Foerster’s direction, not to mention Sam and Cait’sOUT_107-20140519-EM_1127.jpg acting, we were able to see and relate to what both of these characters went through on their first night as husband and wife. What starts off as an intimate, yet awkward consummation, by the end of the night turns into a passionate love-making for both.

Have you ever seen a ‘sex scene’ in which the woman gets to slowly walk around the man with her eyes lingering on his body while her hand trails ever so slowly, from his front collarbone to his firm buttocks? If you can name one, please do. I’m drawing a blank!

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This was so well done that every moment of awkwardness of their first time, sweetness and wonder of his, sadness of her realization that despite loving another man she still enjoyed making love to this one, came across as real. And just when I thought they couldn’t top it off, they go on and let me watch a man enjoy his pleasures to the fullest, and color me happy for this whole year!

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I honestly didn’t expect to see that. In the past, and once more I do ask you to correct me if I’m wrong, it’s usually all about the woman, going on about it ‘down there’ while you don’t even see the dude.

????????????????????????????None of that was done in this scene. There were hardly any shots of Claire, while we only saw Jamie reach his ‘happy place’ and it was glorious! Even poor Jamie thought his heart was going to burst. Seriously, how often have you seen a depiction of sex coming from the woman’s point of view [not counting romance novels]?  And also, how often have you seen a man’s first time so honestly and accurately portrayed?  It was downright refreshing to see the vulnerability and honesty of their sensuality. This was by far the most realistic ‘love ????????????????????????????making’ [note I don’t use ‘sex scenes’] scenes I’ve ever had the privilege to watch. The genuine affection between the actors, Sam and Cait, can’t be missed as they play out these scenes, and the chemistry between Jamie and Claire is electrifying and palpable in every single scene they’re in, but especially in the bridal chamber scenes. If you watch their faces you’ll notice that the camera captured their expressions so beautifully, that at times I felt like a voyeur of a very intimate, private and even sacred ritual.

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Claire’s internal conflict is written on her face throughout the episode. Her face is crestfallen as she struggles to reconcile her feelings of guilt in betraying the man she loves, while being forced to marry a man for her safety, and to top it all off, now she is forced to consummate the marriage, and that just doesn’t sit well with her.

OUT_107-20140513-ND_0702.jpgNonetheless, she accepts her fate, albeit begrudgingly, and you can see all this with barely any dialogue. Everything she feels is in her demeanor; from the minute Jamie enters the bridal chamber, you can tell her cackles are up; as Jamie tells her the party downstairs will not disperse until they’re sure that thewedding01 ‘deed is done’, she responds tersely, saying that at least they’ll not be watching them, and to Jamie’s comeback with his ‘wee joke’ of “only Rupert and Angus”, she’s accusing him of being “regular Bob Hope”; his toast to her was sweet and thoughtful, while she paid no mind to it and just kept on drinking.

At one point you could see that she’s feeling sorry for him so she tries hard to get this 2014-09-23 22.55.13thing over with by reaching out to him, squeezing his hand and leaning in for their first kiss, and she chickens out even there. She decides to ask him about his family, wants to prolong the inevitable and he is patient and kindly entertains her with his stories. That puts her at 2014-09-23 22.55.19ease a bit and she admits that he’s charming, a born story teller. After hours of relaxed ‘getting to know you’ even she is aware that the time has come to go to bed, and not to just sleep.

 

As she ‘deflowers’ him, she feels guilty; as she realizes the extent and trouble he went through to make this a memorable day for both of them, she still feels Jamie-Claire-Outlander-Feet-1024x573guilty, but takes the initiative; as he makes her a gift of his mothers pearls, he declares that she’s as precious to him as they are, and this time she is resigned and you can see it in her facial expressions as she straddles him, kissing him and 2014-09-23 22.55.30both just watching each other’s faces as they slowly make love. And just like that, over the space of one night, she may not want to admit this to herself, but the audience knows it. This woman has just fallen in love.

As for Jamie! JHRC! Sam Heughan has taken to this role like duck to water. It’s obvious that he’s read the book and studied the character from DG’s description, yet watching him use all the little idiosyncrasies and nuances of JAMMF is fascinating! From his little twitching 2014-09-23 22.55.38fingers before the oath taking to the same after his awe of love-making, he’s got JAMMF by the balls and he’s not letting go, bless his heart!

All the past episodes were one long, sweet and seductive foreplay, as far as I’m concerned. We knew that Jamie was taken with Claire from the2014-09-23 22.55.41 first time he saw her. She was the woman for him, but his circumstances didn’t allow him to do anything about it. Yet now that she sort of ‘fell’ into his hands, he was going to do this thing right and by God, he was going to demand it of his uncle Dougal to help him out. He wants this done in a church, with a priest; he wants a ring made for her out of a special key he has in his sporran; and he Outlander-wedding-night-850x560wants her to have a special dress. And we just watch this kid with no responsibilities but to himself, who’s on the run, hiding in the stables, slowly becoming a man and taking the responsibility of a wife. And we watch him literally become one as he loses his virginity, and as much as it was awkward for us to watch it, it was much more for him as he’s trying to figure it all out and make sure that his wife was well pleased as he was. His facial expression of wonder and joy goes away quickly as he realizes that she may have hisofacenot liked it as much as he did.

After his wife assures him that she liked it, he still wasn’t so sure as he tries to touch her, feel her hair and she pulls away. But all is well again as they get to trust each other and his second time his wife takes over and teaches him what true pleasure really is. For him, their third coming together was as significant as hers. Giving her the o 107bscotch pearls that are so precious to him because it’s one thing he has from his mother, and telling her that she’s as precious to him, probably wasn’t an easy thing to do, and you could tell by his shy look at her.

He may as well have told her he loves her for crying out loud! As a matter a fact, throughout this night, he is the one that is more vulnerable than she is. And he is the one keeps on giving to her all that he has, his name, clan and his family. He offers his body for protection, which is his life, if o 107cnecessary. Unlike his wife, he holds nothing back. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Claire, and that’s what brakes her heart and her resolve to ‘only do her duty’.

She’s touched by Jamie remembering every moment, every second of their wedding, from the first time he saw her in her dress, comparing it to sun coming out after the cloudy day, sweet dreamsdown to their first kiss and their Blood Oath. And here we thought women are romantic! And here is one thing that I thought the show let me down, just a bit. It was all about the dress, as it should be, but boy they missed the opportunity to make this be about him as well. Here he is, in his full Highland regalia, looking all so handsome, splendid, and all eyes are on her. She looks sick, heartbroken and guilty. I hoped that she could for just one minute stop and appreciate Jamie-And-Claire-Outlander-1024x575this man in all his glory. My heart just went out to him! He continually goes out of his way to make her feel safe, and she in the end accepts everything he offers and gives as good as she gets. Well, that is until the morning after she accidentally finds her ‘other’ wedding band and holy crap but that face just broke my heart.

2014-09-23 22.56.00Oh before I forget, there was much more to the episode, but this is what impressed me the most, besides the dress, which was stunning, kudos to Terry Dresbach; music that was as sensual as was their love making, thanks to Bear McCreary; the direction, acting and lighting, brilliant, but then it always is and that is why this show just keeps drawing people in. It is unique in its honesty of telling a ‘good yarn’.

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This Saturday we’ll be getting Ep. 108, ‘Both Sides Now’ and this will be a mid-season finale with returning eight episodes on April 4th, 2015.

Did you see the episode, the show? What are your thoughts? And how will we ever pass the time ‘till April next year?!

Anyone know of a support group for crazy fans such as I? Or do I need to start drinking, like NOW!

This is from the last 8 episodes coming April 4, 2015

This is from the last 8 episodes coming April 4, 2015

*PHOTO CREDIT STARZ; and some screencaps [you’ll know which those are!]