Review of TENDER IS THE KNIGHT by Jackie Ivie (see her website)
Zebra Books, December 2005
All London knows her as the Ice Goddess. She's Elise, Dowager Duchess of Wynd, granted an allowance by the Wynd family that means never having to wear the same dress twice, and she intends to protect herself, never be dependant on a man for anything again. Being sold once was bad enough--coming into a man's control again is unacceptable. Still, she owes her nephew, illegitimate though he may be, an introduction to his family. Just because the former Duke of Gowan led her sister on, refused to marry her even after getting her pregnant doesn't mean that the current Duke should be denied knowing his nephew.
Except the current Duke is a barbarian. Just back from serving in the army, in India, Colin MacGowan is a mountain of a man. The first time he sees Elise, he complains she hasn't enough meat on her body. Then he accuses her of chasing him down--as if she would stoop to anything like that. But when a so-called friend tries to rape Elise, she has nowhere to turn but to Colin. Unfortunately for her, Colin's price is high indeed--he claims her as his wife.
When he sees Elise with Rory, Colin jumps to the conclusion that Elise has a bastard. Given the reputation Elise has intentionally created, it's an understandable mistake. But with both Elise and Colin holding onto their pride more than to their sense, the conflict between the two of them escalates--even as they travel into Victorian-era Scotland. Can even the desire that links these two prove strong enough to overcome the prejudice and pride that keeps them apart?
Author Jackie Ivie (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Ivie) creates a concoction of clever banter, Scotish adventure, Victorian sensibilities, and a bit of insight into the fate of women forced into marriages not of their chosing in this entertaining romance. Elise makes a fascinating character--intent on using all of the weapons which nature and skill can bring in order to preserve her independence. Her loyalty to her late sister, and her guilt over not treating her sister better, make her more sympathetic. Colin is the classic alpha hero--all force, determination, pride, and readiness to believe the worst, even as his instincts point him toward the truth.
After years of seeing only Regency Era historicals, it was an added pleasure to see a story that steps out of that milieu and into the later Victorian period.
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