Title: The Leopard Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Published in April 2007 by Warner Romance
Genre: Historical Romance
Related Books: The Raven Prince, The Serpent Prince
She is a woman of means, a very young very wealthy and determined widow. She wants to live life but society wants to put restrictions on her, put barriers and stumbling blocks in her way. Lady Georgina Maitland is not going to let that stand, nor is she going to allow society to dictate or force her into yet another marriage she doesn’t want. She has been there and done that and her current circumstances are a direct result of her unhappy marriage to a much older man. She wanted more from marriage. She wanted love and caring, not what her family pushed her into for their posterity. They saddled her with an old man, one who wanted a young fertile bride at any cost, left her wealthy and yet untouched. Society must never find out for it would bring shame on both her and her late husband, and possibly call her inheritance of his estate into question. Even so, George is very happy with her status as a wealthy widow, her estate in the country, and her life now as a whole. Now to deal with the problem of her virgin state, and the answer to that is an affaire, a discrete one for certain, but one which will solve her problem before anyone finds out.
George is a collector of stories, legends and faerie tales, an avid reader, and a person who appreciates fine craftsmanship. She also favors and appreciates those who take the time and patience to produce beautiful things, and this draws her to Harry. He is meticulous in his work, takes pride in a job well done, and in addition to all that, he carves exquisite figurines and miniatures for the joy of it from the odd but well chosen scraps of wood. Her attraction to Harry does not go unnoticed by her younger sister Violet, who has come to stay for a while with her. There is not much Violet can say to Georgina, because she too hides her own secrets, and if she tries too hard to discover George’s secret affair, her own disgrace stands a very good chance to become known. George is aware something is not completely right with Violet, yet cannot put her finger on it right away. When Violet’s actions precipitate a catastrophe in Georgina life, however, tables are quickly turned, and Violet has to face not only George’s anger and possible alienation, but also the consequences of her own misbehavior. Now George has to try to make things right again in her world, not only for herself, but for Violet too, and again she turns to her steward, for Harry may hold a key to the answers and the help she needs.
Harry Pye is a man with a secret and an uncertain past. Actually, he has many secrets, but one in particular could be deadly for him, and any associated with him. Running is no longer an option for him, it is time to face the past that haunts him, deal with his monsters, and then make his life anew. Until he does this, settles the matter between him and Lord Granville, he will be neither safe nor happy. He is already being blamed by Lord Granville and the county for a series of sheep poisonings, so with a sense of foreboding, he forges ahead. The job as steward for Lady Maitland is a perfect cover for him, and unfortunately it also puts him very close to the source of his problems. He needs to deal with this, needs to get the sorrow, the uncertainty, and the danger behind him so he can move on with his life. It helps to have friends in high places, impeccable references, the right knowledge, and confidence. All of these things played a part in securing him his position, but the added attraction to the beautiful and charming Lady Maitland was unexpected and unwanted.
It is not that Harry doesn’t like Lady Maitland, he respects her and doesn’t want her name or reputation tarnished by a dalliance with one of the lower classes, namely him. As her steward, it does set him above the below stairs staff, but he is still not in her social class, and such an alliance could cause some problems for her. Yes, she is a widow, and yes she is allowed a certain freedom as such, but he doesn’t want her in danger, doesn’t care to have her hurt or in a position to be hurt. He will do anything to protect her if he can, use any means and any one to keep her safe. There is much to be said, much to be learned, and Harry doesn’t want George involved. When the dead animals turn up on Lord Granville’s farms and Harry is suspected, having the lady at his side is a plus, but it also attracts unwanted attention to her, makes her vulnerable. He doesn’t want this, but George is smart and headstrong as well as beautiful, and Harry soon realizes he has met his match on more ways than one. He also knows it is forbidden in society, its not allowed for a lady to love a servant, and any permanent liaison between them is doomed, or is it?
For Harry and George, things get tricky, sticky, and quickly dangerous. Lord Granville is a mean, vile, and cantankerous man possessing hatred and disdain for all women in general, and a particularly nasty dislike for Lady Maitland for a variety. First and foremost he despises her because Georgina has repeatedly refused his advances. He hates her very independence, and has repeatedly tried to get her literally under his fist. He believes it isn’t possible for a woman to be capable of or good at running her own estates. The second reason is she hired and shelters Harry Pye. Lord Granville hates Harry as much if not more than he hates Georgina, but his unreasoning animosity toward Harry has to do with the secrets Harry has, the threat he possibly poses to Lord Granville. Between them, they find they hold the key to the county problems, and must seek assistance from those higher up society’s judicial ladder. Lord Granville is the magistrate, and as long as he remains so, both Harry and George are in grave danger. Help is closer than they think, however, and from a source neither are expecting. As events unravel, they find themselves pitted against more than just the threat of societal condemnation.
From the talented pen of Elizabeth Hoyt, we get a delightful tale of love in an unlikely place, and a story within a story. The Leopard Princeis a tale about the very strong, lovely and independent Lady Georgina Maitland, and her lover and estate steward Harry Pye. Harry has many talents, one of which is carving. He carves some beautiful things, animals as well as fanciful creatures. Lady Maitland collects stories as told by the local folk. Some think it a strange thing for a lady to do, but George enjoys getting to know the tales and legends of the countryside. George tells the tale of the Leopard Prince to Harry in bits and pieces. It is a simile of their own situation, and yet a truth of the possibilities, of how things can be. This smart and intriguing pair has hurdles to jump, society to foil, and a murderer or two to catch. All this leads to love and a wonderfully satisfying story told in the best tradition of Historical Romance with just a touch of suspense. The Leopard Prince is going to be available soon in a bookstore near you, and you can look for it on Amazon.com and get your copy ordered today. Warner Romances have a lot to offer, so keep The Leopard Prince on your to buy list. Get ready to enjoy another great Warner read!
Yours in good reading,