The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood
Series: Crown Spies #1
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: March 1st 1991
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Christina Bennett had taken London society by storm. The ravishing beauty guarded the secret of her mysterious past until the night Lyon, Marquis of Lyonwood, stole a searching, sensuous kiss. An arrogant nobleman with a pirate's passions, he tasted the wild fire smoldering beneath Christina's cool charm and swore to posess her... But the fiesty and defiant Christina would not be so easily conquered. Mistress of her heart and of her fortune, she resisted Lyon's sensuous caresses. She dared not surrender to his love...for then, she must also forsake her precious secret...and her promised destiny!
I forget how much I enjoy Garwood’s regency titles, especially The Lion’s Lady. This book is listed as book 1 in the Crown’s Spies series, but all of the books can be read as stand-alones. Aside from a brief mention of other characters, none of the books are related in any way.
More often than not it’s Garwood’s heroes who stand out for me, even though I tend to like her heroines. In this case, I really love Lyon, the hero, but I absolutely adore Christina, the heroine. She’s totally unconventional. She was raised by Indians in the Black Hills of South Dakota, can use a knife better than many men, prefers to go barefoot and eats the leaves off bushes. She’s wonderful. Garwood tends to write heroines who are just a little too perfect, but Christina is so refreshing I hardly noticed.
Lyon is the perfect match for her. Though he starts out quite jaded and cynical, it isn’t long before he realizes what a gem Christina is. I especially love that he totally gets her. She kept thinking he wanted only the “civilized” version of herself, but he proves time and again that he loves all of her..even her wild, savage side. Especially her wild, savage side. I especially love how un-sheltered Christina is. She doesn’t shy away from “mating”, what she calls “mischief makers” (thieves and the like), tavern brawls or catty women. She’s sweet, but refuses to cower or take crap from anyone.
“She was such a sweet little thing. ‘Course, she did throw Louie overboard. Flipped him right over her shoulder, she did.
Couldn’t believe it—no, sir, couldn’t believe it. Louie had it coming, though. Why, he snuck up behind her and grabbed her. That’s when I seen the color of her hair. Real light yellow. She’d always been wearing that hood, even in the heat of the afternoons. Must have been mighty uncomfortable.”
“She threw a man overboard?” Bryan asked the question. He knew he shouldn’t interfere in Lyon’s questions, but he was too astonished by Mick’s casually given remark to keep silent. “Enough about the hood, man, tell me more about this girl.”
“Well, it were a good thing for Louie the wind weren’t up. We fished him out of the water without too much backache. He left the miss alone after that surprise. Come to think on it, most o’ the men did.”
There could have been a lot of angst or a dark theme to this book, but instead it’s a light read. There’s a lot of humor. Lyon’s confusion anytime Christina speaks in riddles, the customs she brought to England with her from the wild’s of the Dakotas, etc, made for a very entertaining read.
“Thank you for your assistance, Rhone. Lyon, what are you going to do about those men cluttering my walkway? And am I mistaken, or are there one or two in the back of the house as well?”
“There are two,” Lyon said. “I threw them out back.”
“They’ll wake up and crawl home,” Rhone advised. “Unless, of course, you—”
“I didn’t,” Lyon said.
“Didn’t what?” Christina asked.
“Kill them,” Rhone said.
“Rhone, don’t frighten her,” Lyon said.
“Goodness, I hope not. Think of the mess.” Christina sounded appalled, but for all the wrong reasons.
I think what stands out for me most in terms of the relationship is how quickly Lyon was willing to accept all of her. He saw her threaten his former paramour at knife-point, eat leaves from shrubs, throw a dagger with precision aim, and ride bareback and he didn’t flinch or cower. They were also surprisingly open with each other. There were no silly misunderstandings (aside from Christina worrying he wanted a princess, rather than her as she truly was), or long drawn-out obstacles because they didn’t talk to one another. Christina kept parts of her past hidden, but once she trusted Lyon she opened up fully. And he never expected her to be anything but what she was.
“Why don’t you like the people?” he asked. His voice had turned soft, soothing, Christina thought he really might be thinking she’d just lost her mind.
“I don’t like the way they act,” she announced. “The women take lovers after they’ve pledged themselves to a mate. They treat their old like discarded garbage. That is their most appalling flaw,” Christina said.
“The old should be honored, not ignored. And their children, Lyon. I hear about the little ones, but I’ve yet to see one. The mothers lock their children away in their schoolrooms. Don’t they understand the children are the heartbeat of the family? No, Lyon, I could not survive here.”
She paused to take a deep breath, then suddenly realized Lyon didn’t look very upset about her comments. “Why aren’t you angry?” she asked.
He grabbed her when she tried to step away from him again, wrapped his arms around her, and held her close to him. “First of all, I agree with most of what you’ve just said. Second, all during your irate protest you kept saying’they,’ not ‘you.’ You didn’t include me with the others, and as long as it’s the other English you dislike, that’s quite all right with me. You told me once you thought I was different. It’s why you’ve been drawn to me, isn’t it? It doesn’t really matter.” he added with a sigh. “You and I are both English. You can’t change that fact, Christina, just as you can’t change the fact that you belong to me now.”
The suspense plot featuring Christina’s father was pretty weak, but again, I love how Lyon and Christina deal with it together. The scenes where Christina interacts with Lyon’s family had me laughing out loud, and really served to make the story come alive.
This is a novel I’ve read again and again. It never fails to pull me in and lift my spirits. If you haven’t read it before, I suggest you pick up a copy now. You’re missing out on a sweet, wonderful tale.
4.75 out of 5