The Scotsman

The Vow

The Baron by Juliana Garnett
(Bantam, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-553-57628-3
The Baron is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good, swashbuckling story coupled with an intelligent, thinking-person's romance. Juliana Garnett writes wonderful stories that are filled with romance and outstanding historic detail.

As well as he can remember, Tre Devaux, Third Baron of Brayeton has only loved two things in his life, his land and his daughter. After outlaws murder his daughter, Tre has only one thing left -- his land.

But evil King John has other plans for Tre, plans that include taking Tre's land and title. Tre's only option, other than death or imprisonment, is to accept the King's appointment as High Sheriff of Nottingham.

As sheriff, and a Norman, Tre must convince the Saxons to pay taxes and he must contend with the local outlaws that have been robbing both Saxons and Normans alike. From the Saxons, the only outspoken opposition comes from Lady Neville, a Saxon-born widow of a Norman baron.

Jane Neville is alarmed at the dark power that radiates from the new sheriff, but that does not stop her from confronting him and demanding justice for her people. Even though he knows she could be dangerous to him and his mission, Tre can't help but admire Jane's quiet courage.

What Tre doesn't know is that Jane's courage, not too mention her skill with a bow and arrow, comes from her legendary uncle, Robin Hood. Although Robin has been gone some 15 years, his legend lives on. While Jane despises the outlaws that steal from the poor Saxons, she has great tolerance for those that steal from the wealthy Normans and give back to the poor.

In fact, Jane is disguised and present when Robin's older but still brawny band tries to steal a load of tax monies from a few Normans disguised as monks. When Tre and his men trap Robin's band, Jane saves them by pointing an arrow at Tre's throat. Tre recognizes Jane's voice and decides to let the outlaws go so that he can follow their leader. But following Jane proves to be very dangerous to Tre's most closely guarded possession -- his heart.

The Baron contains some wonderful dialog: feint and jab, double entendres abound; readers who enjoy verbal stimulation will be very pleased. And Tre and Jane have great chemistry; the sexual tension, which starts the moment these two lay eyes on each other, is first rate.

In addition, this fine romance is coupled with a rousing, unpredictable story line that doesn't sacrifice historical plausibility. So if you've always enjoyed tales of Robin Hood, read The Baron -- a great romantic sequel to a fine romantic legend.

--Judith Flavell

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