cover image Outlaw


Susan Johnson. Bantam, $7.99 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29955-7

Johnson ( Sinful ) merges improbable history, titillating sex and sustained suspense, using the struggle for Scottish independence from British rule as the backdrop for a love story. Johnnie Carre, a powerful Border Lord in Scotland, kidnaps Elizabeth Graham, widowed daughter of his English enemy Lord Harold Godfrey, to force the release of his brother, Robbie. No rough-and-tumble warlord, Johnnie ``wore a black velvet jacket. . . . The lace at his cuffs and throat fell in fluid splendor; a spectacular diamond twinkled from the crushed folds of his jabot.'' Threatened by her father and her dead husband's sons, who plot to gain control of her marital inheritance, Elizabeth discovers she is pregnant with Johnnie's child. She proposes a marriage of convenience to her longtime suitor George Baldwin, who accepts. With an army of 300 men, Johnnie gallops into England to abduct the bride at the alter and ride with Elizabeth back to his country estate, Goldiehouse. But their happiness is threatened by the wicked Godfrey. Johnson tells a good story, but her one-dimensional characters have all the appeal of Tupperware. (Nov.)