Review: The Gift by Julie Garwood (1991)

Crown’s Spies, Book 3

Heat Factor: Initial consent is dubious at best, but after that both parties are all about it, and so am I.

Character Chemistry: That thing where a super alpha submits to a naive, innocent, young woman. 

Plot: They were married as children. He kidnaps her to get some land. She convinces him that he loves her. And destroys his scary pirate ship with a parasol. In other words: Completely Bonkers. 

Overall: If you are Bodice Ripper Curious, The Gift is not a bad place to start.

Sometimes, when I read romances – especially some of the better contemporary romances being published today – I’m like, “This is a great example of a healthy adult relationship.” 

Reader, this is not one of those romances. The protagonists are forced into marriage to heal a feud between their families when Sara is 4 (!!!!) years old. Sara and Nathan communicate by yelling at each other 95% of the time. Their first kiss involves Nathan grabbing Sara’s hair and pulling her head back so he can smash his lips on hers. Sara is convinced that she can make Nathan love her through sheer force of will; she, of course, has loved him her entire life just because he is her husband. 

In short, there are a million red flags, but I don’t even care, because I had so much fun reading this book. I definitely laughed out loud on more than one occasion. It’s a classic bodice ripper in many ways (see paragraph of red flags, above), but Garwood is clearly having loads of fun and not taking things too seriously. Sara is a naive, innocent dreamer, but she is the one who runs the show, right from the beginning: Nathan might be a big bad pirate with a big bad pirate crew, but Sara refers to them as her “staff” and wins over their loyalty by poisoning them (by accident) and then making one of the masts fall (also by accident) and then lighting the ship on fire (also by accident). 

Beyond the hilarious shenanigans, however, what this book really highlights well is the idea of love languages. Sara really really wants Nathan to tell her that he loves her, and perceives his lack of verbal communication as a lack of love (verbal affirmation). It takes her the whole book to realize that when he tries to teach her to protect herself, it’s because he cares, and not because he wants to be rid of her. When Nathan does finally figure out that he loves Sara (because he’s an emotionally constipated alpha male, it takes him a while), he thinks that he can’t just tell her, but that he must also make a big gesture to back up his words with actions (acts of service).

The Gift might not have given me butterflies at the Big Dramatic Moment when Nathan finally (finally!) Confesses His Love, but I don’t even care. How can you not love a book where sex in a tropical pool in described like this:

They both almost drowned. Neither minded.

Buy Now: Amazon

More books like this, please and thank you!

I AM Bodice Ripper Curious, but I would like some more options before I commit

“Our love will overcome the war between our families!”

Going to a tropical island for President’s Day Weekend, you lucky thing? How about some sexy tropical island smut!

3 thoughts on “Review: The Gift by Julie Garwood (1991)”

    1. Garwood’s old stuff definitely has a formula that definitely wouldn’t work for everyone. I think I also didn’t much like The Gift when I first read it, probably 20 years ago, but this time around it was the perfect book for the moment – I guess I needed something ridiculous in my life.


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