The Lion's Lady (Crown's Spies) by Julie Garwood
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 372 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Princess Christina Bennett is the daughter of a British aristocrat and the deposed king of a small European principality, a man she has never met. The tiny, gorgeous blonde has taken the Regency ton by storm during her first visit to England. Christina claims, when pressed for information, that she was raised in a convent in France, but this is far from the truth. Christina was raised by the Dakota Indians in America, and she is not here to socialize or find a husband, as society assumes. Her true mission is to seek justice for her mother's death, something she believes only she can achieve. Christina succeeds admirably in keeping her true background and goals hidden from everyone--until the night she encounters the devastatingly handsome widower, Lyon, Marquis of Lyonwood, a man with his own dark and mysterious past.
Trained as a spy for the Crown to ferret out secrets and lies on behalf of his country, Lyon is instantly attracted to Christina and very soon becomes convinced of two supremely important things: Christina will be his, and his alone, and he will not stop until he discovers every detail about her past, no matter how many times she sidesteps his probing questions.
This historical romance was originally published as a mass market paperback in 1988. The audiobook narration by talented, British actress Susan Duerden was produced in 2012.
For romance fans who are seeking a change of pace from the hard-edged secondary plots of romance novels from the past decade or so, with lots of dark drama in the form of paranormal monsters, action, suspense and thriller storylines, this vintage Garwood novel from the laidback 80's might be just the ticket. Both Lyon and Christina are trained warriors, and if this book were written today (or by some other author), there would probably have been a lot more fight scenes and Christina would have had a chance to prove her mettle with her knife in more extensive ways, and the villain would have had many more opportunities than in this book to menace our intrepid heroine. Instead, Garwood chose a much lighter, often humorous, battle-of-the-sexes approach to her story, making this book a kind of "dramedy," part comedy, part drama. The love scenes are both tender and sensual, and the two protagonists are more than a match for each other, being equally strong willed.
The audiobook narration is very well done. Susan Duerden has an excellent range for both female and male voices of all ages, from children, to early adulthood, to old age. This is an unabridged version providing 13 hours and 26 minutes of sterling entertainment.
This book is the first in a series called Crown's Spies. They are loosely linked together by the reappearance of particular subcharacters, but the main romantic couple is different in each book:
The Lion's Lady (Crown's Spies, #1), originally published 1988
Guardian Angel (Crown's Spies #2), originally published 1990
The Gift (Crown's Spies, #3) , originally published 1991
Castles (Crown's Spies #4), originally published 1993
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 4
Action-Adventure Plot: 3
Historical World-Building: 5
Audiobook Narration: 4