Because You're Mine

Prince of Dreams

Somewhere I'll Find You

Someone to Watch
Over Me

Stranger in My Arms

Suddenly You

Where Dreams Begin

Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas
(Avon, $7.50, R) ISBN 0-380-81106-5
Sensual romance sells, that’s clear. Lisa Kleypas’ romances were always pretty hot but it’s clear that she is turning up the temperature to meet readers’ desires. She knows how to write love scenes. Fortunately, she also knows how to create compelling characters and tell a good tale. Thus, despite a few quibbles about historical matters, I am happy to recommend Lady’s Sophia’s Lover.

Our hero is Sir Ross Cannon, chief magistrate and head of the Bow Street Runners. The heroine is “Lady” Sophia Sydney who appears in his office one day to apply for a position as his assistant. Employing a woman for such a job is unheard of, but Sir Ross, instantly attracted to this unusual woman, finds himself offering her a dual role - as his assistant and as his housekeeper. Sophia accepts.

Sophia has been frank with her new employer. She informs him that she is the daughter of a viscount who, when her parents died, was left impoverished with only her young brother for company. On the death of her brother, the lands and title went into abeyance. She had been sent to live with a relative where she worked for her living, but had been cast out when she was seduced and abandoned by a gentleman visiting the area. Clearly she needs the position.

(Now for my historical quibbles. Contrary to the title, as the daughter of a viscount, Sophia is no “Lady.” Likewise, her description of the situation she and her brother faced after their parents’ death - being left to the care of the villagers - is highly improbable. As a titled noble with at least some land, Sophia's brother would have become a ward of the court and suitable guardians appointed.)

However, Sophia's motives for seeking employment with Sir Ross extend beyond mere need. She is seeking revenge. Her brother fled to London and was arrested for picking pockets. Sir Ross sent him to the prison hulks where he died. Sophia came to London determined to ruin Sir Ross, believing him to be a cruel and corrupt fellow. Instead, she discovers he is a dedicated public servant who is committed to fighting crime and making Bow Street into an efficient police force.

Ross has had little time for anything but his work for the five years since his wife died. Known as the “Monk of Bow Street,” he has ignored the lures set for him by the ladies. Yet he is instantly “in lust” when Sophia appears. Moreover, he begins to appreciate the skill with which she attends to his comfort and her efficiency as his assistant. For her part, Sophia discovers that her sentiments towards the man she blames for her brother’s death have taken a 180 degree turn.

Kleypas has created an interesting hero and heroine, detailed the development of their relationship, included some great sexual tension, and written love scenes that are both scorching and integral to the story. I find that in many more sensual romances, these scenes often seem to have been added on to gain the coveted “R” rating rather than to advance the relationship of the hero and heroine. Kleypas does not make this mistake.

She has also provided an interesting look at the world of Bow Street and the London underworld. This is sort of a sequel to the author’s 1999 release, Someone to Watch Over Me in that Sir Ross was a secondary character in that story and its hero is a secondary character here. One does not need to have read the earlier book to enjoy Lady Sophia's Lover.

Part of the appeal of Kleypas’s historical romances is that they are generally not set amongst the idle denizens of the ton. Rather, her heroes and heroines are engaged in interesting ways in the world. Sir Ross is a perfect Kleypas hero. While he comes from wealth and privilege, he has chosen to work at an important profession at the expense of his personal life. Thus, watching him fall in love with Sophia and reevaluate his priorities in a good way is proof positive of the transforming power of love.

Kleypas interweaves a high level of sensuality into a good romance and a well-told tale as well as or better than any other author of R-rated books. If you like your romances to sizzle, you’ll enjoy Lady Sophia's Lover.

--Jean Mason

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