Review: The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood

The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood
Publication date: May 1, 1992
Publisher: Pocket Books
Category: Romance - Historical
Source: Purchased
Summary: Judith Hampton was beautiful, proud, purposeful & loyal. Her dear Scottish childhood friend was about to give birth & Judith promised to be at her side. But her private reason to travel to the Highlands is to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land...Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered. In a spirited clash of wills & customs, Judith revelled in the melting bliss of Iain's kisses & passion. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light & warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection & trust of Iain and his clan...not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves. (

The good
When Alexa and Kelly demanded encouraged me to read historical romance novels starting with The Secret by Julia Garwood, I was totally up for it! But I’ll admit I kept putting it off (too many books, not enough time!). I was determined to read it last month though and when I did, I was definitely kicking myself for not reading it sooner. Just as they predicted. I utterly and unexpectedly fell in love with every aspect of this book. The romance! The friendships! The charming heroine and her brooding hero! I laughed, I swooned. I immediately put this book on my favorite shelf. In other words, whether you love romance novels or not, you should definitely give this a shot.

Judith Hampton promised her best friend Frances Catherine Maitland (née Kirklandy) that she would be by her side when she gave birth for the first time. Doesn’t seem like a big deal right? Except Judith is English and Frances Catherine is Scottish and during that time the two didn’t mix and they certainly weren’t supposed to be best friends. But they defy convention, much to the dismay of Frances Catherine’s husband and her brother-in-law and laird, Iain Maitland, who will travel with Judith from England to the Highlands. The Secret is told from Judith and Iain’s perspectives and from the moment they meet, the attraction is fast and antagonistic. Oh yes, they clash immediately and you all know how much I love that.

Judith is probably the reason why I loved this book so much (followed closely the swoonfest that is Iain Maitland). She’s bold, feisty, innocent and a little feminist in her own right. I adored that! Her antics with Iain either made me laugh out loud (particularly when she called him out on his nonsense) or sigh as they gave into their attraction. With Iain, his gruff (and sexy) exterior belies a warm, devoted heart that is becoming more enchanted with Judith and her cheerful defiant ways. I loved watching these two fall in love with each other, even though it was the last thing either wanted.

But again, it wasn’t just the romance. It was also the unshakeable friendship between Judith and Frances Catherine. The politics and customs of the Highlands and how Judith wormed her way into their town. The men loyal to Iain (like Brodick!) and how even they couldn’t deny their approval of their relationship. And there’s even a bit of family thrown in as per Judith’s past, which was one of the driving forces behind the plot. Everything came together so, so well. (And in case it wasn’t clear yet, I loved every second of it!)

Do I recommend?
Obviously the answer is yes! I’m so glad I gave historical romance a chance and that I started with this book in particular. It’s set the bar pretty high but I’m looking forward to more!


  1. nice! i'm adding it to my TBR. I've been wanting to read more Scottish historical romance.

  2. All I'm going to say is this: I TOLD YOU SO. I seriously am so happy that you (and Kelly) have decided to start reading historical romances! They can so often be the best, just because they're so fun and so romantic. So glad you fell in love with Judith & Iain too!


with love,