by Tracy Cooper-Posey

March 2003
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Red Leopard is set in the fictional town of Vistaria, South America, where political unrest is surrounded in controversy and two passionate people find a love that is forbidden.

Calli Munro meets the love of her life in a jail cell. A college professor in South America for the summer to help her uncle, she is arrested for fending off unwanted suitors in a very lusty festival. A mystery man saves Calli from her jail cell, a puzzling man who evokes passions yet discovered in Calli, and leaves her wanting moreÖ

Nicolas Escobedo is the fascinating stranger who saves Calli, and the half bastard brother, of the President of Vistaria. Nicolas wants Calli desperately, but his political obligations and the unrest in Vistaria prevent him from pursuing her. Calli being an American doesnít help either, though Nicolas realizes the value of Americans, some factions of Vistaria donít. Nicolasí country lies on the verge of a revolution, now certainly isnít the time for him to become involved, but can he resist his desires? As the two embark on the forbidden they share much heartache along the way. Calli is willing to risk everything to spend any time with Nicolas, but will his duty to his country prevent him from risking everything to be with her?

This was a great read, with only a minor complaint from this reader. Much too much descriptive narrative was had. Though I appreciated the authorís attention to detail, I caught on to the lush surroundings and Spanish culture fairly quickly. I felt at times, it went overboard, right down to the food they ate. Could just be my particular taste, but less is more.

And with that comes high praise for depicting a love forbidden, and desire that burned the batteries in my mouse out! Whew, when Calli and Nicolas got together it was about as hot as it gets. Finding love under such difficult circumstances was portrayed with raw emotion, and vivid, emotional development. Nicolas was yummy as he battled with a serious dilemma; love of country or the love of a lifetime. Calli was tough and tender, and about as non clingy as generic cling wrap! She knew what she was in for, but she went ahead and seized the moment. The secondary characters were also a delight, however left me with a question or two.

I also noted a warning in the beginning of this read, stating that the story is romantic fantasy, and safe sex should always be practiced. Bravo! I have noted a trend forming, as reviewers pick apart a story for unsafe sexual practices. If you are reading these romanticaís then you should be over the age of eighteen, well versed in the consequences of indulging in the pleasures of the flesh without protection. For the author and the folks at Elloraís Cave to have taken the time to remind readers speaks volumes. This is quite simply fiction, an escape from reality, no more and no less. To pretend otherwise is to be far too caught up in a world with unrealistic settings and circumstances.

This was a romantic fantasy; jam packed with passion, angst and the love of two people beginning a relationship an entire country wants to see fail. Love at all costs is Red Leopard!

Reviewed in April 2003 by Connie.

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