The Defiant One
by Danelle Harmon, historical (2000)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80908-7

How do you make clichés entertaining? Well, just ask Danelle Harmon - The Defiant One may be a comfy read of a light-hearted English romp (now that itself is a cliché, isn't it?), but skillful writing and great characters in a romance that manages to be touching and fun makes it an above average comfy read.

I must confess that while I've read The Wild One (I like the heroine, but I must say I'm hard-pressed to understand her attraction to the mostly immature hero), I skipped The Beloved One (the hero "accidentally deflowers" virgins too often for my liking - here's hoping wifey makes him stay away from alcohol and battlefields in the future if she knows what's good for her). I have no trouble following The Defiant One even if the hero starts off with some leftover baggages from (I guess) The Beloved One.

Lord Andrew de Monteforte doesn't want to marry, he just want to be left alone. But Lucien, the meddling eldest brother, wants all his siblings married off, so he argues with Andrew, asking him to go out and smell the sunshine and maybe peek up some ladies' skirts, that sort of thing. Andrew, in a fit of anger, accidentally creates an aphrodisiac.

Wow. So just how bad was the guys and gals who created Viagra fighting anyway?

Back to the story. Our heroine Lady Celsiana Blake is a rich woman who doesn't want to marry because men tend to want her money more than her honey (the usual). She is also a fervent believer in animal rights. Lucien, the bad boy, sees her as Miss Right for Andrew, so he tells her that Andrew has been torturing poor bunnies and stuff in his lab. Our righteous heroine storms Andrew's bedroom, demanding to see his lab, and ends up quaffing the aphrodisiac. Poor Andrew lost his virtue and dignity.

Lucien barges in just then with Celsie's brother in tow. At this point, in another less fun novel, I may just shriek "Cliché Cop-out!" and hurl the book across the room, but hey, I'm having the time of my life. The two are forced into an engagement. And it's going to be a long, rocky road to matrimony. But not if Lucien has his say!

Nothing in The Defiant One surprises, but it nonetheless entertains supremely. Andrew is a nice, sexy scientist guy who can come clean his test tubes at my sink anytime (oh dear, did I say that?) while Celsie is a fun if typical romance heroine. They bicker, romp, and rip each other's clothes off. Best off all, I have a great laugh as I watch them fall in love. The author manages to make the romance believable. And best of all, there are enough poignant moments to balance the humor, small reflective scenes that flow easily with the lighter moments. Who says scientists are nerds, eh? Andrew is such a hunk, and Celsie isn't too bad either.

The Defiant One also has me curious about the imminent castration of Lucien de Monteforte. Who's the lucky lady? I can't wait to find out. Until then, it's probably not a bad idea to revisit Andrew and Celsie in their madcap adventure to love.

Rating: 88

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