Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Leopard Prince - Elizabeth Hoyt


The Leopard Prince
Elizabeth Hoyt
Warner

Historical Romance

Lady Georgina (George) Maitland is in a rather unique position for an unmarried woman in 1760. She owns an estate, willed to her by an aunt, to run as she sees fit; she is not made to answer to a father or brother. While traveling to the estate with her land steward, Harry Pye, George notices that Harry is, in fact, quite male. Of course, the timing of this observation could be better, since she makes it after their carriage overturns on a muddy road. That he behaves like a perfect gentleman when they are forced to seek shelter in an old cottage irks George for reasons she doesn’t quite understand.

Harry grew up on the neighboring estate of Lord Granville, the county magistrate. Granville is also well known amongst the common populace to be of exceedingly bad character. When sheep belonging to his tenant farmers begin to die, everyone decides it must be someone with a grudge against Granville. Someone precisely like Harry, who has good reason to despise Granville.

George spends quite a bit of time with Harry, getting to know the estate. Although he almost never smiles, he occasionally displays a very dry wit, and George finds she lives for those moments. At the ripe old age of 28, and with no marriage prospects, George embarks on an affair with Harry. Truth be told, she doesn’t give the future much thought, given the glaring disparity between their classes. Then a local woman turns up dead of the same poison that killed the sheep, and Granville would like nothing better than to see Harry hang for it.

During that first, innocent night together in the cottage, George, who collects fairy tales, begins to tell Harry the story of the Leopard Prince. This story is woven, bit by bit, throughout the novel. The relationship between Harry and George is born of mutual respect and attraction between two mature adults. The rest of the cast of characters runs the gamut from George’s wonderful brothers to Granville’s very different sons, to the various farmers and tenants that populate the countryside. Tiggle, George’s maid, is especially fun. THE LEOPARD PRINCE is a thinking reader’s fairy tale, populated by mature adults, and a joy to read.

Rating: 8 ½
April 2007
ISBN# 978-0-446-61848-9 (paperback)

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