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Gentle Warrior - Julie Garwood This is my second Garwood romance read in less than a week. This is unheard of for me... I very, very rarely read romance, but as I'm participating in a blog activity with a friend, I'm going for it and reading 5 of them this month.

I read this one in place of a different one that my friend had sent me, because that one was about rippling abs in kilts and the Garwood I just read featured the same theme... sort of. So I went for something a little different and went for Feudal England over Scotland.

Other than those differences though, there was a LOT that was similar in this book. Having read the newer of the two, The Bride, first (although I didn't know it at the time), this book felt a bit shallow. Neither one was really plumbing the depths of humanity, although they certainly went for SOME sort of depth-plumbing, ha ha ha. The characters here didn't really have the same spark that they had in The Bride, and after finishing the book and thinking back on them both, I can really see the difference and improvement in the writing and characterizations in just the four years that separated these.

Elizabeth is very, very much like Jamie from The Bride. Both are spirited, skilled in ways that women usually weren't way back then, such as hunting and use of weaponry and defense. They both have problems with authority, both have knowledge of healing, both caretakers of their family, both beloved youngest daughters, etc. I could go on. But in truth, Jamie just had something MORE. I didn't really understand a lot of Elizabeth's reasoning and logic or her actions. She just seemed contradictory to me. But they were very similar in exterior facets... probably their most striking similarity is the fact that they are both innate sex-goddesses. Their first time brings out the cougar in them both, which is just unrealistic. Maybe Garwood is a few years past her first time at the rodeo, or maybe she's just really enthusiastically romantic, but let me clarify: It hurts. Virginal women don't go from "OMG WHAT THE HELL DID YOU STICK IN THERE?! A BASEBALL BAT? GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!" to "I know! Let's see if we can get a table leg in too, dear. That'll be fun!" in the span of 5 minutes. Yet both of these girls did. Like I said, unrealistic.

More similarities abound in the male side of the relationship. Big, hulking menfolk, who are just gentle giants and don't realize that they love their little wifey until they almost lose her 567,118 times because she's such a little uncontrollable firecracker. These men have no subtlety when it comes to the horizontal mambo. True, they aren't just "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma'am" guys, they each make sure that she gets hers too, but the actual deed consists of much whamming and much bamming. Which is fine, but again... virgins and the recently deflowered don't like this tactic in real life.

One thing that the guys do have going for them in the sexy-time realm is their willingness and enthusiasm to please. This book had quite a few trips downtown, and while that sounds fun, it was actually quite a bit like a paint by number... 1-brown: play with boobies, 2-beige: tongue action on boobies, 3-off white: kisses down the belly, 4-green: circle navel with tongue, 5-blue: VICTORY!
(That picture makes a puppy frolicking in the grass under a blue sky.)

These complaints don't mean that I didn't enjoy the story... I did for the most part, and there was one part that really tugged at my heart, so despite the predictability of the story and the characters and the sex, I still liked it. I can't say that I would really recommend it, because I'm sure that there is better out there in this type, but it's not terrible.

Well, except for when Garwood refers to Elizabeth's mare as "him". I cringed a bit at that, I admit.