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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Golden Leopard

***** The Golden Leopard by Lynn Kerstan. Historical romance.

Lynn Kerstan is an author whose books I generally enjoy very much, but unfortunately, she hasn't had anything new out for a while, so I'm picking up her backlist here and there.

Lord Hugo Duran is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is captured in India after another Englishman stole the priceless golden leopard deemed necessary to the nizam's rule. He's sentenced to death as a spy and thief, but is granted conditional freedom when he says he's had a dream that he's to restore the leopard.

So he has one year to find the golden leopard or die, and to that end, he returns to England with an assassin as a bodyguard/valet and unseen "others" keeping him under constant watch. Unfortunately, the time of the journey is also included in that year, so he's down to a matter of weeks once he arrives in England.

To find the leopard, he applies to Lady Jessica Carville, whose heart he once broke, and who now works for Christie's auction house as an expert in antiquities.

This is not your usual historical romance. It's more an adventure, on the order of Indiana Jones. It's over-the-top and intense, and a fabulous page-turner.

Hugo and Jessica are both strong, intelligent characters, and neither is inclined to sentiment--maybe that's why I liked them so much. They're larger than life, both of them strong enough to keep their emotions to themselves to accomplish their goals. And despite their determination, they find themselves falling in love again, fighting it all the way.

The character of the assassin Shivaji is a lovely plus--he's mysterious and possessed of an iron-clad resolve to kill Hugo, yet they become friends of a sort.

The resolution of Hugo's dilemma is due to brains and cleverness, and is very satisfying.

All in all, an absolutely wonderful read.


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