The Prize - Julie Garwood This classic Julie Garwood medieval romance is set in the time of the Saxon and Norman skirmishes. One thing that slays me is the mindset of the invaders...they'd come to a castle keep, lay it under siege, kill as many men as possible, and basically just overtake the place...and then they would graciously allow the 'former' lord to remain alive if he would only swear fealty to their leader and become part of their army. WHAT THE....what? That's crazy to me...it's basically forcing them to live a life of shame, now basically peasants within their own home. Mind boggling.My synopsis:Lady Nicolaa is a clever young Saxon woman who tricks Royce into believing that she is at first a nun, then a married woman with a baby. Not only is she clever, but she has become a renowned battle leader when she leads her brother's army in his absence. Of course, Royce and his men are a cut above what the Norman usurper sent before, and they quickly overtake Nicolaa's home and men. Now Royce is charged with bringing the infamous woman to his king to be auctioned of as a prize wife to the man who wants her most. And Nicolaa is furious...My thoughts:Julie Garwood excels at writing tough as nails alpha warrior men and naive, brainless...but never helpless...heroines. I imagine that her characters would have truly fit into the time period for which they were created. Royce is super authoritative, to the point of chauvinism. Me man, you woman...ugh, ugh!! Nicola is air headed and ridiculously naive, though she doesn't let her apparent lack of brains keep her from making demands. This is my Nicolaa...more in actions than in looks...If you've seen the movie Enchanted, you'll know what I mean... One problem that I had with the way her character is portrayed is that while Nicolaa sure does like to put her foot down and take a hard stance about certain issues, she always seems to cave in and bow to Royce. What's the point of making her this strong willed female if she ends up sounding like a vapid woman? There was almost no instance in which she executes a plan that she is so determined to execute, other than that first charade with the nun's clothing.But the story was captivating, the scenery and the court intrigue very well done. JG's historicals are so hugely different from what is written today, it's almost laughable. I don't suggest reading them if you have hard core feministic tendencies...these women are mostly doormats. But then, their men always come around and pretty much love their women to distraction, forsaking kings and friends and family just to make their lovers happy. So there you go...it's a special kind of romance, and I very much enjoyed it.