The Dangerous Lord

The Forbidden Lord

The Pirate Lord

A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-80928-1
In a remarkable stroke of serendipity, the evening before I started reading A Dangerous Love, I watched a television broadcast of The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Iím sure I would have enjoyed this book under usual circumstances, but that really primed my pump. The banter, the confrontation, the juxtapositioning.... I was ready!

The Earl of Swanlea is dying, but before he goes he needs to attend to two important matters: the question of his rightful heir and the future of his three daughters, known as the Swansea Spinsters. He contacts his cousin Marsden Griffith Knighton and proposes that in return for GriffĒs marrying one of his daughters (which will allow the three to remain in their home), he will supply proof of Griffís legitimacy so that he will become the next earl. Griff has worked hard to establish the highly successful Knighton Trading, but rumors of his bastardy have haunted him for years. Finally having his parentsí wedding license in his hands will permit him to assume his rightful place and ensure his rise to even greater commercial power.

The earl has invited Griff to Swan Park to meet his daughters. Griff, however, has no intention of submitting to the Earlís scheme. He arranges for his friend and colleague Daniel Brennan to accompany him. The two will impersonate each other. While Daniel distracts the daughters, Griff will search for the proof his cousin has withheld.

The Earlís daughters are not as eager to marry their fatherís heir as Griff imagines. In fact, they are quite opposed although the youngest, Juliet, has finally acquiesced. The middle daughter Lady Rosalind Laverick, full-figured and no beauty, is determined that her sister not be forced into this marriage. For herself she has plans for a career on the stage as her mother had before her.

When she meets Griff, believing him to be the man of affairs Daniel Brennan, her suspicions are aroused. She resolves that she will accompany him while he remains at Swan Park. Griff is equally resolved to undertake his search privately, and so these two strong personalities are certain to clash again and again.

Thereís lots to recommend about this Regency-era historical romance. The story is an inventive blend of the familiar arranged marriage and mistaken identity plots. The characters are likable and well developed - even the conniving, dishonorable Earl has redeeming qualities. (Thereís a hint that a sequel will feature Helen, the eldest daughter, and Daniel.) Moreover, itís refreshing to have a heroine who isnít slender, graceful, and a stunning beauty, one whose foremost quality is her ability to run an estate.

But what really distinguishes this lively tale is the authorís deft hand with dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed the verbal sparring between Griff and Rosalind. While itís clear to the reader that Griffís deception is bound to come out eventually, the thrust-and-parry between these appealing characters will convince readers that just like Petruchio and Kate these two are meant for each other.

--Lesley Dunlap

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