Yes, yes – I read romance novels…

I usually refer to them as my “guilty pleasure books” or “girly books”. They occupy the second lowest shelf in my book-nook and I rarely admit to reading them when discussing books and literature. However… I will make an exception for today’s post.

I should start this whole thing by saying that I’m incredibly picky about which romance novels I choose to read. I usually wait for a recommendation from friends first – I don’t think I’ve ever just randomly picked one off of the shelf and read it – too dangerous, in my opinion. 😉 See, I demand two things of my romance novels – 1) they must have a plot other than “Ooh! Shirtless Highlander – smooches!” and 2) they cannot look like a romance novel. No gasping women and shirtless Fabios on the cover, thank you very much!

So, that being said, my favorite romance author is Julie Garwood and my favorite novel of hers is Ransom. It’s nothing groundbreaking really – spirited English lass meets rough and stubborn Highlander, sparks fly, and they end up getting married. It’s the most common story that Garwood tells, just with different characters and backdrops each time. Luckily, I like the story, so I’m willing to read it in each of its various incarnations.

Anyways, the reason I enjoy Ransom so much is because it has plot. The romance is woven in of course, but the plot itself is very fun. It takes place during the Crusades – same one as Ivanhoe and The Adventures of Robin Hood. Prince John rules England and his barons are free to do whatever they wish. One such baron has seized a holding and killed its lord in front of the lord’s youngest daughter, Gillian. This daughter grows up under the care of her uncle, but is captured again by the same baron who killed her father and order to journey to the Highlands to retrieve an artifact for him, or else he’ll kill her uncle. In the process of the journey, she rescues a young boy (also being held prisoner by the baron), meets said stubborn and rough Highlander, flushes out a traitor, and various other highjinks. It’s quite fun.

This book has several interweaving plots. The mystery of the identity of the traitor Highlander who wants Gillian and the young boy dead, the questions surrounding the artifact that Gillian must fetch and how it ties to her father’s good name, and, of course, the chemistry between Gillian and her Highlander. They all tie together in the end in the most satisfying way.

So, if you like these types of romances, read Julie Garwood. Any of her historical romances are worth reading. 🙂