Lady Anne's Dangerous Man
I find the 16th and 17th centuries fascinating and it’s gotten quite difficult to find a good historical romance set in these times. When I learned that this novel takes place during the Restoration, I was quite excited to try it. Though the story is way over the top and the plot doesn’t always flow seamlessly, if you enjoy a good swashbuckling road romance, there are plenty of things here to love.
Lady Anne Gascoigne is a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine at the Court of Charles II. For someone of her station, her life is rather dreamlike. Betrothed to the handsome Lord Waverby, Anne is confident that her fiance will protect her from the King and his inappropriate advances.
This confidence dissolves when Anne overhears Waverby plotting with the King and basically agreeing to let the King have his way with her in return for various favors. Needless to say, Anne is devastated by the betrayal and seeks help from her father, a judge who places Anne in the care of John Gilbert, also known as the highwayman “Gentleman Johnny”. If John protects Anne and treats her honorably until her situation at Court can be resolved, he will be released from his death sentence.
It is clear from the initial setup that this is going to be a very over-the-top story and the remainder of the book certainly lives up to that promise. The snobbish and slightly petulant Anne is taken to the forest camp of John and his gang. From there, Anne and John’s adventures turn into a vivid and high-spirited road romance. Somewhere along the way, the truly charming John manages to win over Anne and this romance changes her into a much more pleasant person as well.
The author does a good job of keeping the tone of her story light and rather tongue-in-cheek without going too far over the edge. The outrageous characters and nonstop adventure of this story could easily have gone too far into silliness, but Westin does a good job of keeping things enjoyable for most of the story. There are a few moments, however, particularly in John’s camp, that may strain credibility too much for some readers, but the story is primarily a fun one.
The romance in this story is enjoyable as well, but those looking for a deep, all-consuming ten hanky romance will likely not find what they are seeking here. The novel focuses primarily on the wild and often comedic adventures the main characters meet on the road, but the hero and heroine are drawn together in a manner that seems very natural. At times protestations over Anne’s much-treasured purity and the difference in their social stations gets to be a bit much, but these characters are still more enjoyable than not. Even more importantly, the characters in this story are more memorable than most.
If you like a good road romance or if you simply long to read a historical set in a time period other than the Regency, you may want to check this one out. While it doesn’t flow quite as well as some others I’ve read, it is still a very fun read. Lady Anne’s Dangerous Man provided me one very entertaining afternoon and, hopefully, it will do the same for many other readers.