by Danelle Harmon

June 2000
ISBN: 0-380-80908-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

The Defiant One introduces the strong-willed Andrew de Montforte, the reclusive inventor/scientist and brother of Lucien de Montforte, the Duke of Blackheath. This is a recommended read, as Ms. Harmon dishes up quite an entertaining story of two social misfits and a love potion.

In The Beloved One (Charles' story), Andrew suffers an accident and has never been the same; he has kept to himself since and avoids venturing out socially in fear of having an "attack" due to his illness. In this story, Andrew unheedingly throws some chemicals together and later finds that he's discovered an aphrodisiac. Conscious of the consequences of such a discovery, he gives most of it to Lucien for safekeeping and keeps a vial for himself for further research.

Celsiana Blake is an animal activist and considered odd because of her preferred company, her pets. Celsie is aware that if it weren't for her wealth, no one would bother with her socially; so she uses her affluence to her advantage to push the plight of abused animals by hosting social events. It's at one of these events that Celsie and Andrew meet.

Celsie and Andrew never quite got on at their first meeting. Hardly surprising since Lucien, the manipulating elder sibling had something to do with it. For Lucien, it is enough that the end justifies the means, the purpose being to get Celsie and Andrew together when they never would have on their own. With the help of the love potion, Andrew and Celsie were caught in a compromising position and are forced to marry. Being caught in a compromising position is hardly amusing, but the aftermath was simply hilarious with indignant Andrew claiming that Celsie (who ingested the potion) had ravished him (yea, right).

With vehement reluctance to marriage, each with their own reasons, Celsie and Andrew try to thwart Lucien to no avail. However, their unwillingness to wed, not to mention more aphrodisiac (yes, Lucien again), brought them closer together in a friendship which turned into love.

There were parts to this story that were very funny. Trying to ease the pressure off of Andrew to marry her, Celsie proclaims, "Maybe I deflowered him!" Then there's Lucien trying to reproduce the potion, with the help of Andrew's scientific notes, with disastrous but hilarious results! The invention of the aphrodisiac also created some very steamy scenes between Andrew and Celsie. Ms. Harmon's creative talent and writing ability shines throughout this story.

The narrative is not all fun, however, as "villains" go after the love potion. This, in turn, builds up to Lucien de Montforte's story, The Wicked One, where Ms. Harmon's series come to an end. As Lucien is the most interesting of all Ms. Harmon's characters, it too is sure to be a good read

Reviewed in August 2001 by Veronica.

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