Ballantine, Jan 2008, $26.00, 339 pp.
In England she is the Lady Gabriella, daughter of a powerful baron; but in Scotland the beautiful and innocent is known as the Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel like her mother before her. Many men want her including King John’s favorites Baron Percy and Baron Coswold. Although King John gets pleasure in pitting the two men against each other he decides that Gabrielle goes to Laird Alan Monroe in an attempt to appease his countrymen.
Gabrielle and her guards are on their way to the Abbey in Scotland to meet her betrothed when she sees a group of men dressed up as monks ready to kill a man who they are using as bait to capture his brother Laird Colm MacHugh. She shoots an arrow in the man who is getting ready to kill the prisoner. She saves his life and brings him to the Abbey to heal. She visits him during the night to make sure he is okay but a woman’s lies destroy her reputation and causes her to be banished. Lord Colm MacHugh is persuaded by Gabrielle’s kinsman to marry her in order for Colm to pay off his debt to him. Once she is in his home, she turns his life upside down but enemies from England and Scotland have differing plans to destroy the relationship that is beginning to blossom between the laird and the princess.
Julie Garwood goes back to her historical roots and writes a romance that is filled with pageantry, blood feuds, duplicitous lords and eventually a war between two powerful clans. The growing love between the hero and the heroine is beautiful to behold and is very believable. Ms. Garwood’s trademark underlying humor is present throughout the storyline and readers will chuckle at the way Gabrielle winds Colm around her little finger. This is one of the best historical romances of the year.