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The Silver Lord by Miranda Jarrett
(Harl. Historical #648, $5.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-29248-1
***
Miranda Jarrett introduced the Claremont brothers in her novella, “A Gift Most Rare.” The three brothers, sons of the late and highly unlamented Duke of Strachen, had each been given nicknames by society. The youngest brother, sent off to make his fortune in India, is called the “Sapphire Lord.” The eldest and current Duke, Brant, is known as the “Golden Lord” due to his success in restoring the family’s depleted coffers. The middle son, George, has gained the nickname, the “Silver Lord.”

George’s uncaring father had sent him to sea at a tender age, caring little if the boy survived or not. George not only survived; he flourished. He rose to captain one of His Majesty’s fastest frigates and had the good fortune to capture an enemy ship stuffed with treasure. His captain’s share instantly made him a very wealthy man. Now the politicians in London have - foolishly in his mind - made peace with Napoleon and his sailing days are over, at least for the present. So George decides to use some of his newfound wealth to buy an estate. Which is how he ends up in a remote area of Kent, inspecting Feversham Hall.

His guide through the house is Fan Winslow, the Hall’s housekeeper. She exhibits a certain disdain toward Captain My Lord Claremont. The inhabitants of the Kent coast have little time for Londoners in general and naval officers in particular. Fan is sure that his lordship will flee from the tumbledown manor house. Indeed, George finds little in Feversham Hall to recommend it until he espies the marvelous view of the sea from the window in the master bedroom. Suddenly, he senses that he has come home.

Unbeknownst to Fan, George hurries to London to purchase the property. One condition of the sale is that the new owner keep Fan on as housekeeper. George, already intrigued by the handsome and self-possessed woman, has not trouble agreeing to this clause. Thus he returns to Feversham Hall, to Fan’s intense dismay.

Fan has a very good reason for not wanting a new owner - and especially a naval officer - on the premises. For generations, the local smuggling gang has been known as the “Winslow Gang.” Her family has served as its leaders and now, since the disappearance of her father, Fan is in charge. Although bred to the trade, Fan is not happy with her role, but she feels a responsibility to keep the gang intact until her father’s return. Nor are the men especially enamored of a female leader, however well she can shoot.

Thus is established the conflict between the smuggler and the new owner of Feversham Hall. But if there is conflict, there is also attraction. George finds his competent and self-possessed housekeeper much more to his liking than the ladies of the ton who tried to win the wealthy “Silver Lord.” Fan finds her employer quite different from the brutal navy officer she feared. Instead he is kind and hardworking and without pretensions. However their growing love is threatened not only by their difference in status but also by Fan’s secret.

Jarrett has crafted a believable cross-class romance. It is easy to understand why George, who has spent his entire life at sea, would find Fan attractive. In addition to being lovely and intelligent, she is interesting. That she is not a lady means little to a sailor. Fan’s growing love for George is likewise completely understandable. He represents honor and stability and care. Unlike the other men in her life, he values her and puts her first.

Jarrett has created two attractive and interesting characters. They are different from many of the heroes and heroines we find in romance novels. George and Fan are the best parts of The Silver Lord. Likewise, the conflict that threatens their relationship is persuasive. Fan knows that George must oppose her activities but feels a sense of responsibility to her father and the men under her to easily abandon her role.

Until the end of the book, I had thought The Silver Lord would be a 4-heart read. Unfortunately, its conclusion was a bit improbable and abrupt. Still, readers who appreciate a Regency historical with a difference may enjoy this romance.

--Jean Mason


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