2002, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Avon, $7.50, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0380811065 Part of a series
We all know those writers who recycle their heroes. And our opinions of those writers are almost solely based on whether we like - or don't like - her particular trademark guy.
Lisa Kleypas is a different kind of writer, one with an amazing ability to create achingly real heroes who virtually all vary dramatically in age, background, and personality. But, despite their differences, all of them share one very important quality - the ability to both touch the heart and stimulate the senses. And, boy, can they stimulate the senses.
As the creator of Derek Craven, Lord Alex Raiford, and Jack Devlin, Ms. Kleypas has set the bar impossibly high, something she must feel acutely with each new book. But, clearly, the well is far from running dry. Because in direct contrast to the delicious younger man in last year's Suddenly You, Lisa Kleypas now offers burning, smoldering proof that 40 really is fabulous. Ladies, prepare to meet Sir Ross Cannon, intrepid head of the Bow Street Runners.
Maybe the key is in the small, personal details. Sir Ross is a bit thin because he often just can't find the time to eat. He is a devoted son to his flighty society mother. He is so dedicated to his position that he will even chase a criminal over rooftops - to truth, justice, and the English way. He keeps unflattering caricatures of himself on his bedroom wall. He is a cranky patient and a great trial to anyone tending his sickbed. And, most importantly, he is one of those guys who doesn't like to admit that he is anything less than perfectly controlled at all times.
But from the moment Lady Sophia applies in person for the job as his assistant at Bow Street, Ross is motivated less by good sense and more by his own senses. Clearly, his days as the "Monk of Bow Street" are numbered.
Sophia, of course, has her own reasons for wanting to work for our noble hero, reasons that have given her the deepest feelings of hatred for Sir Ross. It seems that some years earlier Ross, then a magistrate, sentenced her brother to serve time on a prison hulk for petty stealing - a sentence that ultimately led him to contract a fatal case of cholera. Sophia's plan is to use her position as Ross's assistant to gain access to the Bow Street files and records where, she believes, she will discover evidence of Ross's abuse of his authority, evidence she plans to use to destroy him. And, if she can also make him fall in love with her and eventually break his heart, well, then, all the better.
Of course, things don't work out quite the way Sophia plans. Proximity to the incredible Ross leads her to see that he is, well, the incredible Ross. And, of course, the two eventually become lovers.
I have to say that the revenge plot certainly isn't one of my favorites and, frankly, the big surprise is easy to predict. But the
characters here (and did you get by now that I really liked Ross?) are so fabulous, the love scenes so sexy, the dialogue between the two lovers so beautiful, that, frankly, none of that matters. Sophia is a woman with a bit of a past and she is also a woman of substance and fortitude. And, even though she makes a few bad decisions during the course of the story, ultimately, she actually deserves Ross. And that is saying something.
The main attraction of this book is watching this strong, powerful, fundamentally noble man (who first made his appearance in Someone To Watch Over Me) succumb completely to love. And, while Kleypas is an author who writes fairly graphic - and extremely enjoyable - love scenes, the emphasis is always on romance. For my money, that's where it belongs.
Once again, Ms. Kleypas has added another major league hero to her pantheon of greats. And though I know Sir Ross Cannon isn't real, I'm profoundly grateful to the author for letting me imagine for a few hours that he might be.
-- Sandy Coleman
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Don't miss Lisa Kleypas's DIK review of The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale