by Karen Hawkins

April 2005
ISBN: 0-06-058406-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

The wait is over! In the last book of Karen Hawkinsís Talisman Series, it is Marcus St. Johnís turn to learn that once the ring has chosen your partner for life there is no escape. How the mighty fall. And what a woman to fall for. In Miss Honoria Baker-Sneed Karen Hawkins has found the perfect match for the marquis.

Marcus is content being the head of a very esteemed and wealthy family. He cares for his family, and only for his family. He has no scruples when it comes to acquiring an object of his desire, may it be an antique tapestry, a gamblerís lands or a beautiful woman. Success is what counts. It comes as no surprise then that once he is informed about the cursed talisman ringís new owner, there is no stopping him. All of London bows to his will, quavers in fear at his cold stare and obediently carries out his demands. All of London but one woman.

Miss Honoria wouldnít dream of just presenting Marcus with his lost ring. She knows of its sentimental worth and she knows she can get whatever she demands for it. At least that is the plan. Money would be nice. It would cover the costs for a season for her younger and more beautiful sister. But maybe a St. John sponsoring the sister isnít such a bad idea either. Pretending to be enamored with the younger sister would do, too. It could all be so easy, if the marquis wasnít so intent on battling it out. If he werenít so intent on pursuing not just the ring for free, but also a kiss or two, or three.

What is there not to like about this book? I canít think of a single thing. I absolutely adored it. I not only admired Honoria, but I actually want to be like her. Intelligent, resourceful, honorable (a nice touch in a female character!) and beautiful. Stubborn, head strong and competitive. Yes, Iím still describing the heroine. What makes the story oh so much fun, is that Marcus possesses the same character traits. So heated arguments, risky wagers, and spot-on insults become the norm, as well as passionate embraces and seductive kisses. Lady in Red is pure fun!

As always with Karen Hawkins the secondary characters are lovable, charming and very wacky. The previously wedded St. John brothers are all allowed an appearance and I loved welcoming them back. But no matter how well thought out the secondary characters are, Marcus and Honoria always steal the show. The growing respect, the caring and the love is so well illustrated that I canít imagine another book this year will hold me just as enthralled.

I might just have found my favorite book of 2005. At least it will be one very hard to top. And so far it is definitely my favorite Karen Hawkins book. Lady in Red deserves a prime spot on my keeper shelf, and on every Regency Historical readerís keeper shelf!

Reviewed in March 2005 by Kris Alice.

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