Onyx, Oct 2002, 6.50, 384 pp.
In 1821 India, charming con artist Lord Hugo Duran stands trial for stealing the Heart of Alanbad. Needing a lie when he knows the truth of innocence will not work, Hugo insists a dream brought him here and that he is to go home to England to find the Golden Leopard and return it to its rightful owner. The court rules if he fails to restore the jewel within a year, he will die.
Hugo needs help to succeed and at the same time he sees this as an opportunity to finish his business with Jessica Carville, who he once hurt badly. After Hugo failed her, Jessie plunged deeply into her other passion, dealing rare antiquities. Jessie, tempted by his quest, agrees to accompany Hugo, but does not relish the idea of marrying him to keep her reputation in tact. As the excursion turns dangerous, both realizes they still love one another, but if they survive, she does not trust him to stay.
THE GOLDEN LEOPARD is a combination of Indiana Jones and Romancing the Stone. The story line is fast paced and loaded with action, twists, and gender bending (at least for the regency period) subplots. The support cast feels like they come from Peter Lorre clones while the lead couple is a delight though why Jessie suddenly worries about her rep after shredding it as a dealer seems a bit stretched. Still Lynn Kerstan keeps the reader enthralled with this suspense thriller that has just enough romance to please readers of both genres.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner