cover image To Please a Lady

To Please a Lady

Susan Johnson. Bantam Books, $7.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-553-57866-9

Johnson's latest historical, set in 18th-century England, relays the May-September romance between 18-year-old Robbie Carre, the roguish hero of Johnson's Outlaw, and 30-something widow Roxanne Forrestor. The sexually charged story opens with Robbie, who has recently returned from exile in Holland, making a sudden appearance in Roxanne's boudoir. Beyond his hopes of ravishing the object of his affection, the lad aims to reclaim his ancestral lands. Soon, those closest to Robbie find themselves in jeopardy: Roxanne is forced to become the mistress of a powerful duke in order to protect her children from Robbie's adversaries, a decision that doesn't sit well with Robbie. Demanding, stubborn and childishly irrational, Roxanne's young lover behaves more like one of her children than a romantic hero. Some readers will no doubt be titillated by the older woman--younger man romance, but others will likely find Roxanne's maternal role in the relationship distasteful. That said, Johnson, as in her other novels, rewards readers with a slew of footnotes detailing the historic setting. (Oct.)