Mira, Aug 2004, 6.50, 384 pp.
In 1813, Earl Colonel Leo Standish is assigned to escort a Rothschild purchased gold shipment from Brussels to Portugal, needed since the Peninsular merchants refuse paper money as remittance for goods and services. Leo is to masquerade as the husband of Gabrielle Robiscon, part owner with her two younger brothers, of Cirque Equestre, a traveling horse troupe. Gabrielle has agreed to deliver the gold out of love for her recently deceased father, a royalist.
Leo and Gabrielle meet and he behaves like a pompous aristocrat though he “obeys” her orders to better fit in with the traveling show. As the French seek to steal the gold, Leo is forced to perform as the ringmaster so that he does not stick out anymore than he already does. Sharing a moving boudoir platonically and great danger at all times, Leo begins to admire and respect his “wife”, who teaches him life's lesson that love is everything.
Regency romantic suspense fans will enjoy this rousing tale of love between an arrogant lord and a horse trainer-performer amidst the danger of Napoleon's forces seeking to find and kill them. Though the choice between lifestyles by the lead couple seems too easily resolved, the changes in Leo are believable and deftly handled. The audience will agree with his estrange mother “God bless Gabrielle” as she makes the action-packed tale unique, refreshing and exciting.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner