Thursday, May 07, 2009

REVIEW: Broken Wing by Judith James

SETTING / TYPE: Regency Historical Romance
REASON FOR READING: KristieJ.... In her review from last October she gave it a 6 out of 5! When she speaks so highly of a book, I sit up and pay attention because KristieJ is one of my reading gurus (along with CindyS). We don't always agree but I would say most of the time we do.

Abandoned as a child and raised in a brothel, Gabriel St. Croix has never known tenderness, friendship, or affection. Although fluent in sex, he knows nothing of love. Lost and alone inside a nightmare world, all he’s ever wanted was companionship and a place to belong. Hiding physical and emotional scars behind an icy façade, his only relationship is with a young boy he has spent the last five years protecting from the brutal reality of their environment. But all that is about to change. The boy’s family has found him, and they are coming to take him home.

Sarah Munroe blames herself for her brother’s disappearance. When he’s located, safe and unharmed despite where he has been living, Sarah vows to help the man who rescued and protected him in any way she can. With loving patience she helps Gabriel face his demons and teaches him to trust in friendship and love. But when the past catches up with him, Gabriel must face it on his own.

Becoming a mercenary pirate and a professional gambler, Gabriel travels to London, France, and the Barbary Coast in a desperate attempt to find Sarah again and all he knows of love. On the way, however, he will discover the most dangerous journey, and the greatest gamble of all, is within the darkest reaches of his own heart

Wow, a very remarkable book from an author I had never heard of before. I'm not going to rehash the plot because there are oodles of reviews written out on the blogs and review sites, thanks to our dear KristieJ and her Questors. Check out her sidebar for a list of people under the label "Questors" who have reviewed this book. While not everyone loved it as much as KristieJ, I think the majority gave it a very positive review. Both AAR and TRR gave it an A.

I have read many of the reviews and I have to agree with some of the less than positive criticisms - it was not a perfect book - none of that bothered me. I found myself completely enthralled with the story and couldn't put it down. My reason for loving it so much can be credited to the H/H who are two wonderful extraordinary well-written characters.

Gabriel appears hard and cynical but inside he is a damaged child and very fragile. Gabriel could be a study in how an abused child becomes an adult with his overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and self destruction. He cuts himself which was disturbing and I think realistic for someone with his abused background. And Sarah through her soothing sweetness and gentleness can be credited with helping him heal.

Sarah is an unusual character as well and a perfect match for Gabriel. Her mother was part Gypsy so although she is born noble is not accepted into society. She was married off at an early age to an older man and she leaves him after a week (you go girl!). Fortunately for her he dies. She wear trousers and raises horses and does what she pleases. But she is sweet and kind and sees the goodness in Gabriel when no one else does.

The friendship that develops between them goes slowly... no popping into bed at the first signs of attraction ... which was appropriate given Gabriel's history as a prostitute. They truly become friends and care about each and and get to know each other. And they fall in love. Just as Gabriel begins to get some feeling of self worth back he sets off on an adventure to prove to himself that he is worth loving. And this is where the book takes a turn and has an epic feel. This part of the book is all about Gabriel.

There is a long separation when Gabriel has some adventures traveling around the world as a pirate and a gambler. Eventually his feelings of worthlessness come creeping back and when he makes his way back to England he doesn't get in touch with Sarah who thinks he is dead. Now this is where some reviewers wanted to smack him upside the head and I agree with them. Get in line! But keep reading folks, cuz the scene where Sarah discovers he is alive and shows up on his doorstep was a highly emotional tearjerker (man, I need to go back and read that again). But I forgave him just as Sarah does and ... sigh, what a great ending. I can see why KristieJ loved this book so much. Some people hated the long separation but I actually enjoyed it. It just made their reunion and reconciliation that much sweeter.

I recently read Kinsales' The Shadow and The Star and was struck by the similarities of the hero Samuel to Gabriel, both were sexually abused as children. While James is not quite in the same league as Kinsale as a writer, she makes a pretty good run at it, and for a first book BW is amazing. I see from KristieJ that James' next book is out soon. I definitely need to get that one.
If you are the the only person left on the planet who hasn't read Broken Wing, go out and find a copy. A great emotional read mixed with some adventure and a satisfying ending.



Christine said...

Hi Renee!
It's so good to see a post by you! I hope you've been well. =)

You know, I have wanted this book ever since Kristie started raving about it, but regretfully, I never got around to buying it. And the shame of it is that it sounds like just my kind of story! I feel so foolish. LOL!

Thanks for the great review and for reminding me to get this one to the top of my TBR. As soon as I buy it, that is. ;)

ReneeW said...

Christine: Yes you must read this. And I am trying to get back in the blogging world. I have about 4 or 5 posts ready to go, so I'm trying.

Kristie (J) said...

Squeallllll!! I've been waiting to see what you thought of this one :-) And you're right - it does have flaws and I can see why some grade it lower because of them. But for me, emotionally, this book just works perfectly!! I fell so completely into Gabriel and Sarah's love story in a way I very seldom do with a romance.
I enjoyed the section of the separation - it made it more than just a romance for me. And *g* I felt considering Gabriel's fragile feelings of self-worth when he left to go on his adventure, it was totally believable that it was shaken and broken due to his long absence away from Sarah.
Now I can happily add you to The Questors on the sidebar!!

And I'm so glad to see you back!! I missed you (((hugs)))

Brie said...

I'm reading Broken Wing now and I haven't gotten far so I skimmed most of your review. I did notice that you found some similarities between Samuel and Gabriel, that's funny because I just got finished reading Judith James' second book, Highland Rebel (to be released in September) and I found similarities between the hero in that book and the one in Laura Kinsale's Seize the Fire. Even the relationships between H&H are a little remniscent. That said, I did enjoy the book and hope to enjoy Broken Wing as well.

ReneeW said...

Kristie: I knew you wanted to hear my thoughts on this one so that helped get me going on this review. I think the separation was a key part of the book. The longer he was parted from Sarah the more insecure he became. It showed how essential Sarah was to his happiness. And their reunion was wonderful. Thanks for reviewing and compelling us all to read it!

Brie: That's amazing. James is a talented new author. I'm looking forward to getting my copy of Highland Rebel. But I still have Seize the Fire in my TBR.

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