by Pam Crooks, historical (2001)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4911-2
Now this is an interesting romance. Liza, the (half) Lady Gypsy in question, spends too much time lying in bed nursing one injury or the other, but it's a pretty good read.
Reese Carrison is about to marry (yes, the Other Woman is shrill and annoying, and her daughter is just as annoying as the Other Woman's Mini-me) and his railroad business is about to get even more prosperous after a merger with the Union Railroads. He doesn't need a bunch of Gypsies camping near his town. With all the prejudices running high on both sides, they would ruin this fine day when all his ambitions would come true.
Too bad. Liza gets accused to trying to kidnap Mini-Me, and she steals Reese's prize horse in her attempt to get away. Reese gives chase, Liz falls, and a tornado strikes. Yes, a tornado. Don't ask, because I don't think I can ever do justice to the whole ludicrous scenario.
Liz gets escorted to the Carrison home where she gets nice bed and breakfast, Carrison hospitality at its finest. Reese lusts and wants, Liz wants and swoons, and it's a Romany play all over again. You know, half-Gypsy, illegitimate daughter of some white man (worse, a product of adultery on her mother's part), Liz is shamed and ostracized. Reese will be the "nobleman" to love our poor heroine. Liz even delivers a sweet speech to her people, some weeping at the moving intensity of her words, and they finally accept her. (Maybe that's because she's now a girlfriend of a very rich man, but hey, that's just cynical old me.)
Despite the plot which relies on external conflicts and superficial treatments of prejudices and bigotry, Reese and Liz are engaging characters. They have a nice, simmering chemistry going on between them. Liz does think more than the usual impetuous, reckless heroine type. Reese can be clueless at times but he's a nice guy at heart.
All in all, a pretty fun read. It's nothing spectacular - come on, how can it be when there is an Other Woman and her irritating hellspawn kid? - but Liz and Reese are so nice together that they make this story worth reading.
This book at Amazon.com
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