Friday, April 3, 2009

Broken Wing by Judith James

Historical Romance

There are two reasons I’ve had trouble writing the recommendation for Broken Wing by Judith James. First, I wanted to make sure I did justice to the story. Second, every time I picked up Broken Wing to write a recommendation I ended up re-reading the book. So far I have probably read the story 4 or 5 times. Broken Wing is more than a romance; it is a beautiful touching love story. After reading my recommendation I hope you will want to read Broken Wing.

Sarah, Lady Munroe and her half-brother Ross, Lord Huntington, have come from England to rescue their 10 year old brother Jamie. Jamie went missing five years ago and they have finally traced him to a brothel in Paris.

Sarah is known as the Gypsy Countess “on account of her unfortunate parentage and her even more unfortunate behavior. She left her elderly husband only a week after her nuptials. It was widely rumored since that she dressed as a man, consorted with pirates, and counted among her numerous lover her own half brother, Ross. All but the last charge were true.” On the other hand Ross is very conventional.

Gabriel was sold to the brothel as a young boy. He has built up an icy defense to protect himself from all the pain and hurt. His only escapes from the realities of his life are books and his goal of protecting Jamie from all the things that he himself has had to endure. Now Jamie’s family has come to take him home and Gabriel see only a empty future.

When they arrive at the brothel they find Jamie untouched. Jamie states that he will not leave without his protector, Gabriel. When Sarah and Ross tell Gabriel Jamie wants him to come with them he is stunned and we see his reaction. “He steeled himself immediately, crushing a sudden stab of hope.” When Sarah pushes the offer she sees “past kohl, artifice, and carefully constructed defenses, to a heartbreaking vulnerability” and offers him 10,000 pounds to come with them for a year. Gabriel accepts knowing this is his last chance to leave a world that has left him empty.

The story unfolds gradually. Gabriel has no experience with the world he is now in. At first he is only comfortable with Jamie and avoids contact with the rest of the family. He hides behind the walls he has built to protect himself from the people who only used him. Sarah senses his deep unhappiness, wants to help him adjust but does not know how.

The first break through comes when Ross calls Gabriel into his study. Gabriel thinks the worse and is surprised when Ross tells him “It is my intention that you continue your education as a gentleman”. Ross goes on to list Gabriel’s strengths: ““You have exquisite manners when you choose to use them; you have a classical education at least the equal of most of the young fops passing for gentlemen these days; You are largely self-taught…This is much to your credit; You are an accomplished musical; you dance; and you ride.” Ross also states that the Captain of the ship they took to England mentioned Gabriel’s affinity for the sea. Ross and Sarah’s cousin Davey will soon be anchoring in the harbor below the house for the winter. Ross wants Gabriel train with Davey to see if he would like a career at sea.

For Gabriel the meeting is surreal. “As far as he was aware, he’d never been noticed for anything, other than his body and his face. He’d never been praised for anything, other than that, or his skill with his hands, his mouth or his prick. Hearing Huntington listing his accomplishments and planning his future when he’d come expecting anger and retribution left him feeling buffeted and bewildered. He could make no sense of the new world, no matter how hard he tried. He had no map, no compass, no idea of what to expect next.”

Late that same night Sarah is in the kitchen gathering up food to eat while she watches a meteor shower. When Gabriel comes in she invites him up to her balcony to watch. While Sarah just wants someone to share the beauty of the night, Gabriel thinks that she wants to use him for sex. When they get to the balcony Gabriel realizes his mistake. Gabriel for the first time enjoys sharing an innocent experience with another person and finds that innocence “it was a new and heady flavor, and he liked it tremendously”.

Despite their backgrounds and experiences innocence is what makes Gabriel’s and Sarah’s story so compelling. As they fall in love Sarah and Gabriel share their most painful secrets. The story is not rushed. They start holding hands while talking, after several months they kiss, they fall in love over the course of a year and just when everything seems to be resolved something happens to separate them.

This is Judith James’ first published novel and it does have some flaws. None of those flaws detract from the beauty of Sarah and Gabriel’s love story. I am looking forward to Judith James’ next book. Broken Wing is a must read love story.

Published by Medallion Press, Inc ( in 2008 Broken Wing was written by Judith James (

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