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The Pirate Lord

The Forbidden Lord
by Sabrina Jeffries
(Avon $5.99 PG-13) ISBN 0-380-79748-8
If I had to sum up The Forbidden Lord in one word it would be FUN. This is a fun book. I cranked through three-quarters of it on a coast-to-coast flight and never once found myself wishing that the stewardess would feed me again. There is a light-hearted, devil-may-care attitude surrounding the romance between the daughter of a country minister and a handsome, roguish peer of the realm. From the moment Emily Fairchild meets Jordan Willis, Earl of Blackmore, you know you're in for as rollicking a good time as the hero and heroine are destined to have.

The sexual tension is palpable from the instant Emily sees Jordan at the masquerade party of her father's patron, Lord Nesfield, and mistakes him for her cousin Lawrence. Mourning the death of her mother, Emily is dressed in black bombazine which leads to Jordan's assumption that the lady in black who just ordered him into a carriage is a randy widow with an eager appetite.

The notorious rake is dispelled of his notion when Emily begins quoting scripture in defense of his advances. Nonetheless, he manages to steal a kiss and the image of the beautiful, innocent parson's daughter is burned into his cynical brain. Famed for his none-too romantic views on love, the Earl is reluctant to recognize his continued thoughts of Emily as anything other than lust. But when he walks into a "marriage mart" months later and spies Emily dressed to the nines, he can't control the fascination that consumes his being.

For her part, Emily never thought to see Jordan again after their breathtaking carriage meeting. She is stunned to hear him speak her name, but must deny that she knows him at all. Emily is now known in society as Lady Emma Campbell, the niece of Lord Nesfield. What she can't tell Jordan is that she is being blackmailed into masquerading as the Scottish lass in order to ferret out the secret lover of Lord Nesfield's daughter Sophie.

Emily tries her best to convince Jordan that she is not a minister's daughter, and playing the role of a hoydenish Lady Emma allows Emily ample opportunity to explore the less demure aspects of her personality.

Emily/Lady Emma throws Jordan into a tailspin. He doesn't know why sweet, innocent Emily is suddenly behaving in such an overt manner, but he is as excited and attracted to her in this new guise as he was to the simple country girl. He vows to put aside his attraction for Emily and discover the cause of the masquerade.

Jordan's attentions to Emily have her despairing that she will be able to continue with the charade that has been forced upon her by her father's cruel employer. She cannot reconcile his lofty position with her commoner status, but with Jordan dogging her every step, she is hard pressed to fight off the attraction that began with the couple's first carriage ride.

Emily is a sexual creature who doesn't know she's allowed to feel that way. She acts on instinct, and it is that which sends Jordan 'round the bend. The sexual heat between these two threatens to set London aflame, and finally, following a number of steamy encounters, including one particularly amorous trip to a museum, the two give up the fight.

Jordan and Emily revel in their lovemaking, and manage to maintain (at least part of the time) a comradely intimacy that speaks both to the lovers' attraction and the growing bond of friendship.

The de rigeur "I don't believe in love" story thread gets a little old, but even that done-to-death bit of plot device isn't enough to diminish this enjoyable read. Emily is a bright, brainy heroine who isn't afraid to respond to her "baser" nature. Jordan is the quintessential tough-but-tender Lord of the Manor once again proof positive (at least in romance land) that reformed rake's make the best heroes.

Author Sabrina Jeffries has previously authored The Pirate Lord. She is one to watch.

--Ann McGuire

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