Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Christina Bennett had taken London society by storm. The ravishing beauty guarded the secret of her mysterious past until the night Lyon, Marquis of Lyonwood, stole a searching, sensuous kiss. An arrogant nobleman with a pirate's passions, he tasted the wild fire smoldering beneath Christina's cool charm and swore to possess her...
But the feisty and defiant Christina would not be so easily conquered. Mistress of her heart and of her fortune, she resisted Lyon's sensuous caresses. She dared not surrender to his love...for then, she must also forsake her precious secret...and her promised destiny!
Another Julie Garwood winner from her early backlist. This is the story of Christina Bennett. Orphaned and raised by Native American Indians in the Black Hills of Dakota, she journeys all the way to Regency London bent on fulfilling her destiny to meet and ultimately kill the father she never knew. Wow, what a unique plot line and I loved it!
Christina's mother had been a London debutante who married a visiting king from a small European country. For her mother, it had been a fairy tale romance until she returned to his country and found out what a despicable ruler and despot he was. He tortured and killed his people. His reign was one of fear and hatred. Desperate and pregnant, Christina's mother ran away to the far reaches of North Dakota! After giving birth to her daughter, she befriends an Indian squaw who had been kidnapped from her tribe with her young son. Saving the son's life from death and killing the squaw's captor, they travel and live together until, when Christina is two years old, her mother is killed by a bear. Fulfilling a promise she made to her friend, the Indian woman raises Christina as her daughter. Not an easy task, for Christina is blond and blue-eyed and wasn't the type that would blend in well. But Christina is accepted into the village based on a prophecy from the village shaman who dreamed of her as "the Lioness." She is raised as an Indian, but all the while, her adopted parents know and she knows her destiny is to return to London someday and live among the white men. Christina's mother kept a diary, outlining the events of her life and why she ran away. She tells Christina everything in the diary.
When Christina become a young woman, she leaves the Indian village and finds her aunt who is living in Boston. Promising her a fortune and the inheritance she felt she was cheated out of, she convinces her mother's sister to be her chaperon. They travel to London together and Christina is launched upon Society. Her aunt is a dragon, selfish to the core. But, Christina is good to her, despite how awful she is. While in London, Christina becomes a sensation. Society whispers about her identity - rumors abound that she is a real princess. She is Princess Christina Bennett. Her beauty, serenity and grace set her apart from the other debutantes. But all the while Christina is determined. Inside her head the wheels are turning. She will get back at her father and kill him if she can. Christina is one of the strongest heroines I've come across in a romance. By growing up with the Indians, she is a warrior at heart. If anyone can take care of herself, she can. Behind her flawless beauty she can be ruthless, toppling any man and slitting his throat with ease.
When the Marquis of Lyonwood, a former spy for the Crown, sees Christina for the first time at a ball he is struck by her grace and sheer presence. Instantly drawn to her, he makes it a point to be introduced. Christina notices him as well, but keeps her cool as always. Lyon cannot stop thinking of her. A man who made it clear he has sworn off women and has no interest in courtship or marriage, his attraction to Christina is noticed by the ton. Particularly when he so blatantly makes is clear he wants her - for keeps. Who is this unusual woman that has him so captivated?
Lyon is confounded by Christina. He can't figure her out. Her accent, her strange customs and manner of speech. The way she prances around barefoot and eats leaves off the shrubbery (a very funny moment, btw, at a garden party). Having only just learned English, she often misuses words - which further confuses him - and this is a man who prides himself on his sleuthing capabilities and getting to the bottom of any mystery! (He's a trained assassin as well.) He never would have guessed in a million years where she's been living all her life and who with! As much as there is a serious side to this book, there were millions of funny moments between Christina and Lyon. The more he sees of her, the more puzzled he is, but the more he wants her! Gradually it begins to dawn on him that she is hiding a great deal. Still, he doesn't know how much or why. I loved the way the story unfolded and he finally finds out everything about her. The dialogue and repartee between the two of them was great! What a couple!
Still, there is the sticky problem regarding Christina's plans to return home to North Dakota and live with her Indian family after she kills her father. Lyon is unaware of her plans and as far as he's concerned, she's going to marry him and they'll live happily ever after. Will she be able to leave Lyon? Will she even want to now that she's fallen in love with him?
An exciting finish involving her father, a hidden fortune, her conniving bitter old aunt, who everyone hates, and some scampering around in the hedges makes for a lively and entertaining read all the way up to the last page. This was such a good book! I had no idea what it was going to be about and it was so unusual! Yes, it was basically a regency romance, but the whole Native American Indian part of it gave it an original twist!
I've loved Julie Garwood's medievals, but this Regency really took the prize. It was refreshing and a nice change of pace. Still it had all the romance, humor (and sex) that makes Julie Garwood novels so great. Her strong hero and heroine are a perfect match for one another. A real pleasure and I'm adding it to my favorites list - a keeper!