Celia's Grand Passion

The Golden Leopard

Lord Dragoner's Wife

Lucy in Disguise

The Silver Lion by Lynn Kerstan
(Onyx, $6.99, PG-13) 0-451-41116-1
The Silver Lion contains intrigue, witty exchanges between the two leads, and a view of several layers of 1820's English society.† But since it is the third book in a trilogy, I would not recommend starting with this title.† Too much in not explained for too long.

After returning from a disasterous visit to India, Derek Leighton, Earl of Varden, is interviewing for a new secretary.† He is surprised when his last applicant is a woman.† Helena Pryce is somberly dressed except for her curious wraparound smoky-lensed glasses.† She is also a forceful woman.† Varden agrees to consider hiring her if she can convince the difficult owner of a certain rundown castle to sell it to him.† She accepts the challenge.

Helena has a connection to the owner that Varden does not know so she believes she will win the challenge.† She particularly wants to work for Varden because before his misadventure in India, he had been a strong advocate for social reform, something very close to Helena's heart.† Since Vardenís return, a bad injury to his right hand and the loss of Miranda, the woman he loved, to Michael Keynes, the Duke of Tallent (the man who injured his hand), he has not returned to Parliament.† Helena hopes to get him back on course so that she can help him fix some of the problems of British society.

There is a mystery to Helena that intrigues Varden.† He discovers that she travels through some of the worse areas of London without any harm.† She often stays at the business/residence of an older, shady character named Jamie Carr.† Despite all of this, she is well spoken, organized, and clever.† She also refuses to remove the odd glasses she wears, claiming that any strong light could damage her eyes.† He also notices that behind the somber clothing, Helena is a beautiful woman and is drawn to her beauty and her outspokenness.†

Varden is known for his integrity.† He is asked to further investigate the death of the current Duke of Tallent's older brother. Beast Tallent was poisoned and even though someone confessed to the killing then committed suicide, not everyone is convinced the confession was true.† Beast's brother Michael was originally a suspect and Varden would love to prove Michael responsible.† He sets out to discover the truth and also discovers that Helena may know more about Miranda and Michael than she is telling.

Varden still pines for Miranda, believing that she is the only woman he will ever love, but he continues to be fascinated by Helena.† Helena has always avoided relationships because she is caught between two different worlds.† She quickly falls for Varden, but because of secrets, believes he would never want her as a wife.

The Silver Lion is the third book in Lynn Kerstan's latest trilogy.† Not having read the first two books, I often felt like I was struggling against the tide.† There are too many relationship threads important to the stories that are not explained.† It seems assumed that the reader will know the background.† I was half way through the book before the unknowns became less important and I could enjoy the story.† I know that if I had not been reading the book to review, I would not have finished it.† On the other hand, the writing style, the action, and the emotions of both Helena and Varden convinced me that Kerstan knows how to craft a good tale with unusual characters.†

As a stand-alone book, it does not work well.† I would advise anyone to read the other two books before reading this one.††

--B. Kathy Leitle

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