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Broken Wing    by Judith James Amazon.com order for
Broken Wing
by Judith James
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Medallion, 2008 (2008)
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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Abandoned by his mother as a young child, Gabriel St. Croix might have died a quick death on the filthy Paris streets were it not for his innocent beauty. Rescued by a brothel owner and immediately pressed into service, Gabriel was trapped in a nightmare world of debauchery where to disobey garnered severe punishment. To survive he locked away all emotion and hid behind an icy, cynical and brilliantly cruel fašade. Were it not for young Jamie, the boy he's sworn to protect, Gabriel would long ago have completely lost himself in a dark abyss.

Sarah Monroe is ecstatic when her brother Ross announces that his years-long search for their missing half sibling Jamie has finally borne fruit. A few days later, they arrive at the Paris brothel and bargain with wily Madame Etienne for Jamie's release. However, the young lad refuses to leave without his protector, Gabriel St. Croix. More bargaining ensues and the greedy madam eventually agrees to release Gabriel as well. He's convinced to accompany the family back to their estate in Cornwall to continue acting as Jamie's guardian for the term of one year - a role for which he will be handsomely paid.

Gabriel and Sarah's attraction is initially completely innocent as they share their fascination for the night sky. Their harmless evening rendezvous soon blaze with passion as Sarah teaches Gabriel the meaning of real love. The pair long to become husband and wife, but Gabriel is determined to prove himself to both Sarah and Ross. He takes to the high seas to make his fortune along the Barbary Coast - a journey that soon turns into a grand adventure of survival, lost love and absolution.

Every so often, an outstanding historical romance comes along - Judith James' beautifully written story is just such a book. Not only does she offer readers a unique character in the emotionally and physically scarred hero, Gabriel St. Croix, she also presents a swashbuckling, history-filled epic that harkens back to the heyday of the modern historical romance. A host of unique secondary characters are also on hand, particularly the independent and forward thinking Sarah, whose compassion, zest for life and, ultimately love, are unfaltering as she helps Gabriel come to terms with his dark, horrific past and embrace a new future. Broken Wing is a rich, emotionally satisfying tale and a marvellous debut by Judith James.

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