Saturday, January 10, 2009

Broken Wing by Judith James

Back Blurb: 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 faƧade, 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 as 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.

This book has been making its way around the review blogosphere thanks to KristieJ and her campaign for this book. When it came to buying my own copy, I admit to being a bit nervous. It’s only been within the last year or so that I’ve gone back to reading historicals. I’ve had some great experiences (Julia Quinn & Lisa Kleypas) and some not so good experiences.

Thankfully, I won some books from the Book Smugglers and Broken Wing just happened to be one of the books in my stash. I kept it for last and it kept calling my name. I finally sat down to read it and here are some of my thoughts.

Though it is nothing like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, I found some similarities between it and Broken Wing. It’s hard to articulate why I see similarities. The books are written in a completely different way. I think it has to do with the way the books tend to jump thru history rather abruptly. One minute it’s spring, the next it’s three years later.

Gabriel is a very complex character. On one hand he’s very cynical and hard, but on the other he’s almost a total innocent. It’s an odd juxtaposition and makes him seem very unique in the romance world.

Sarah is also an interesting character. She’s a heroine that we see in so many historicals, but she’s also unique in the sense that she isn’t scared of intimacy. She had a bad experience with her husband, but she doesn’t let that rule her life. She sees Gabriel as he truly is, not as he presents himself.

The relationship between the two of them is sweet and innocent. Who knew that a former male prostitute could be so innocent when it comes to romance and all that? Watching the two of them fall in love was very sweet, though I do have a complaint. We see Gabriel fall in love with Sarah. It’s written from his POV and all that. Sarah, on the other hand, seems to fall in love with him pretty abruptly. One minute, he’s a friend and the next she’s declaring her love for him.

I really enjoyed the book up to when Gabriel left. The innocence of the love story was so sweet and gentle. Then Gabriel left and the entire tone of the story changed. It went from being sweet and innocent to dark and jaded. It was such an abrupt change, but that’s okay. It was such an enjoyable story that I couldn’t put down the book.

Gabriel really annoyed me at the end. I understand why he did what he did (at the end of the book), but I felt that he didn’t do Sarah any justice in the way he behaved.

Davey, Ross, Valmont…I cannot wait to read their stories. They BETTER get their own stories. The rolls they played weren’t very big, but they definitely made an impression.

So, what did I actually think of the story? I really enjoyed it. The romance was sweet, the adventure was fun, and I really liked the characters. Was it the best book I’ve ever read? No…I’ve read better, but I thought the story was great, especially for a debut novel. I will definitely read the next book she writes. Here’s hoping it’s one of the characters from this book.

My Rating: A-


Carolyn Jean said...

Thanks for the review! Like you, I see this around and I'm really interested in what people say about it. Like you, I've noticed other people seem to favor the first part. Though it sounds like a great first part.

orannia said...

Thank you! Am so looking forward to reading this. It's on my hold list (I was thrilled when the library purchased it) and although I would love to read it right now I am trying to stick to reading my TBR books in order :)

Gabriel sounds like an amazing hero...and I just love the name for some reason :)

Kristie (J) said...

I'm SO glad you liked this one!!! When one sticks there neck out as much as I did with this book, I feel extra responsible if they don't like it.
I know a number of readers have had issues with the way Gabriel acts at the end - but I found it much more realistic then if he hadn't. I see him as reverting back to how he had seen himself for so many, many years before the short time he had with Sarah.
And I'm so glad that you liked the second half!!!!! I think that can also be a sticking point with many readers - especially if they are expecting a romance for the whole book because it isn't, which for me sets it apart - it's pretty much all Gabriel and no Sarah. I found it a fascinating journey and during that time it wasn't a romance - it was just Gabriel's story.
I know the author does have stories in her head for some of the other characters in Broken Wing - and I'm pretty sure she said that Sarah and Gabriel will be back.
And doesn't your heart just break for Gabriel in the first half? He truly is so innocent when it comes to love.
I can tell when a book has really REACHED me when I can't let it end - when I think up ways to make it last longer. And that's what I did with this one :)