by Madeline Hunter

December 2004
ISBN: 0-553-58729-3
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

When the other four books in Madeline Hunterís Dueling Society series were released quickly, many readers thought that it was finished. Thankfully, Ms. Hunter was just saving the best for last.

Enigmatic and reserved, solicitor Julian Hampton appears as a cool presence in the first four books. Readers may have sensed that there was something lurking beneath the surface, but it was never explored. Personally, I wondered about him. There was something there, something that kept me intrigued. When I finished The Sinner I felt some disappointment that we never got to know him. Now that I have read The Romantic, I understand why this book had to stand apart.

His outward calm and somewhat calculating facade masks a wounded heart. In love for over a decade with the one woman he can never have, Julian goes through life unfulfilled. His work and his friends provide him with an outlet for his passion, but it is never going to be enough. He has even toyed with the idea of marriage, but knows that it would be a disaster. He is not a monk, but he never gets involved. He cannot.

Then one fateful night, the object of his affection, his client, arrives unexpectedly at his home. She needs his protection and counsel. He offers both without reservation, all the while knowing that this changes nothing. She will never be his. If she were free to marry, her place in society would not allow a match with a commoner, even one of his prominence. As it stands, her monstrous husband holds the key to her freedom. Julian is prepared to do whatever it takes to secure her release from this hellish marriage.

Ms. Hunter has outdone herself. This book is stunning. Julianís habit of pouring his emotions out on paper will reduce readers to tears. The action is well-paced and strong throughout the book. The plot also allows a welcome chance to visit with previous characters. The Romantic is a book that you can read once alone, then re-read the series in sequence and fully enjoy the skill of a fine writer who has brought us so many hours of pleasure.

Reviewed in November 2004 by Paula.

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