Monday, July 12, 2010

'My Lord Jack' by Hope Tarr -Review-

   A well-written and enjoyable Scottish-themed tale with Scot and French fusion. This story is a bit different from the cut-and-dry historicals we are all use to. 'Lord Jack' is an executioner; not some Duke or Viscount with limitless family coffers. And the heroine, Claudia,  is a feisty french women who is far from being the epitome of virginal chastity.  
   Claudia Valemont was the daughter of a courtesan and had became a courtesan herself. When both her mother and protector are beheaded and she next on the guillotine list, she flees for England to search for her father. She is dismayed when her search has her braving the unfamiliar Scottish terrain and is further delayed by a broken wheel on the mail coach she booked passage on for her journey to Linlithgow. It is Jack Campbell- Lord High Executioner for the Crown- whom saves her multiple times from dangerous situations and soon commits a crime of his own. Stealing her heart...

Read an excerpt: here

    Ever since he witnessed  his mothers brutal murder and then watching those responsible receive their due and be executed, Jack Campbell knew that he would become an executioner himself one day. He studied for years and became renowned as one of the best in the land. He has a reputation of dealing swift and effective executions, saving his 'clients' from as much agony as possible. He is appointed the position of Lord High Executioner for the Crown-an honor- even if he seldom encounters anyone who isn't a BIT leery of his profession.
   One day at an Inn, he is approached by a lovely Frenchwoman who mistakes him for a blacksmith and pleads with him to fix the wheel on the mail carriage which brought her thus far and was suppose to take her to Linlithgow. He can't help her with that problem but becomes almost-mezmirized by the stunning foreigner. And when he catches sight of his despicable half-brother, Callum, attacking her, he reacts instinctively and saves the damsel.
    Claudia Valemont has no where left to turn. Both her mother and lover, Philippe where beheaded as a result of the French Revolution and fearing she would be next, she flees to England in search of her father. She was left alone, unprotected and with very little left to her name, so the undertaking is a difficult one. Her frustrations peak as she learns her father, the seventh earl of Aberdaire, is not in London as she previously believed, but in Linlithgow, Scotland. She is further pushed to aggravation when the mail coach transporting her to Linlithgow breaks a wheel and is forced to stop at a coaching inn for the night in some bordering county in Scotland.
   With no money left rent a room at the inn,  Claudia's attempts to spin her fortunes and get the coach on it's way is met with unsuccessful results. As she moves about the coaching inn searching for another solution, she is 'set upon' by some drunk n'er do wells. A man named Callum McBride tries to accost her, but she is saved by Jack.
   Jack's help to a complete stranger can only span so wide, and when he refuses to take her to Linlithgow, she tries to steal a horse and gets caught. Facing the prospect of the hangman's noose, she is again saved by Jack when he speaks up for her and convinces the judge to spare her the hanging. This time around, however, the rescuing has some long-term effects when Claudia is put in Jack's custody for 6 months.
   She resigns to her fate with the devilishly handsome Scotsman, tries to make the best of the situation (even if he frustrates her heedlessly) and begins to develop feelings for him. Jack isn't immune to Claudia's allure either, despite his insistence on chastity,  and as their connection deepen and the treat against her life at the hands of his half-brother increases, Jack will find himself in the throes of love and passion and will do anything to protect his Claudia.

 Rating: 3 1/2 "Smooches"
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is in the beginning when Claudia first begins staying with Jack. He tries to resist her and keep his carnal thoughts to himself, but one night, Claudia has a nightmare and starts to have a fit. Jack gave up his bed to her when she first started staying in his home and prefers to sleep on the floor; so when she starts to call out in distress, he has to get up and calm her down. After she's had time to compose herself, she asks Jack to stay with her. You start to see Jack's resistance crack as he obliges her. Claudia trustingly curls up besides Jack and I believe this is just the cutest scene!
   This story was fun, exciting and heartfelt. Jack, our unlikely hero, is such a unique character. He has compassion for all forms of life, despite the duties of his job, and it's his carefully masked tender side that will make readers fall in love. Even though the beginning reminded me of a RPG chat room (the damsel in distress in some strange coaching inn), I still liked the plot. The characters can't help but fall in love and with the add hints of danger and a delicious forbidden quality, 'My Lord Jack' is an excellent read for any rainy day and beyond!

[*re-released in ebook format by Carina Press]

[a special thanks to Hope Tarr for sending the EPUB file for review]
*Also check out Tarr's next Carina Press re-release, 'A Rogue's Pleasure'

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