cover image Violet


Jane Feather. Bantam, $6.99 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-553-56471-6

Feather's (Valentine) latest historical romance is great fun, thanks largely to her delightfully iconoclastic heroine. A product of the union of an English aristocrat and a Spanish robber baron, the orphaned Tamsyn has assumed leadership of her father's troop of brigands. Like her father, she exploits the chaos engendered by the Napoleonic Wars to plunder the treasures of the wealthy and to wreak havoc upon the lives of the soldiers whose war games are destroying her native Spain. Quickly becoming a legendary figure known as La Violette, Tamsyn is feared by the French and English armies alike--until the French manage to capture her. Concerned that under torture, she will reveal vital secrets to the enemy, the Duke of Wellington orders young and dashing Colonel Lord Julian St. Simon to kidnap Tamsyn from the French and persuade her to share her secrets with the English instead. Julian soon finds that he has more on his hands than he bargained for: his cunning, spunky and sexually liberated captive wants him in exchange for her information. She wants, that is, for him to take her into his household and turn her into a proper English lady so she can secure an introduction to her mother's family, a plan to which Julian, out of a sense of patriotic duty, reluctantly agrees. So begins a delightful clash of wills, as noble but incurably stuffy Julian attempts with rapidly diminishing success to resist his ward's seductive charms, and free-spirited Tamsyn battles the stifling conventions of English womanhood. Feather's well-paced plot generates lots of laughs, steamy sex and high adventure, as well as some wryly perceptive commentary on the gender stereotypes her heroine so flagrantly defies. (July)