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Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady
By  Diane Gaston
Harlequin
December 2009

Historical romances often feature periods of time that are well known to most readers and  it is always fun to discover a new romance novel set in a more obscure historical period. Diane Gaston succeeds in bringing the Napoleonic era to light in Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, which features Englishman Jack Vernon who has just returned from battle in Badajoz, Spain. While Jack is a soldier of heroic proportion, his true love lies in his art. Painting has become Jack’s refuge from his haunting dreams of the battlefield.

While at an exhibit of some of his paintings, Jack spots Ariana Blane, a magnificently gorgeous actress who is a rising star in the theater. Jack and Ariana speak briefly before social obligations cause them to part, and Jack assumes that he will never see Ariana again – after all, they weren’t even able to exchange names. That changes when Jack is commissioned to paint a portrait of the actress that will be used for publicity for the upcoming theatrical production of Cleopatra.

Jack and Ariana quickly discover that they have much in common, not the least of which is a great attraction for each other. Unfortunately, they are also each familiar with Lord Tranville, Jack’s long time nemesis and Ariana’s unwelcome suitor. The conflict between circumstances in Jack’s family and Lord Tranville, as well as Tranville’s continued interference in Ariana’s personal and professional life moves the story along at a very readable pace. The attraction between Jack and Ariana is palpable, and readers will find themselves hoping that the couple can indeed overcome odds that are sharply against them.

Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady is a serial romance with more depth and interest than most. The cast of characters is broad yet well developed, and historical details are used with great effect. The officer is handsome and brooding, the forbidden lady is stunning and strong. Put them together and you’ve got a great story to while away wintry hours!


Joyce Greenfield, ReaderToReader.com
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