Desert Isle Keeper
Susan Johnson achieves emotional involvement along with hot, hot sexuality in this historical. Although we associate this author with the latter quality in all of her books, we rarely use the term emotional when describing her work. In Outlaw Johnson successfully portrays a deep emotional involvement between the hero and heroine without sacrificing any of her trademark hot sexuality. The hero, Johnnie Carre, is portrayed as sexually rapacious in the first part of the book. We see several hot episodes involving him and other women before he commits to the heroine. Johnnie is laird of a huge Scots clan and is used to doing pretty much as he pleases.
Johnnie is forced to kidnap the heroine, Elizabeth Graham, an Englishwoman, in order to free his brother from an English prison. Elizabeth is the daughter of the man responsible for the brother’s imprisonment. Paternal devotion is not Elizabeth’s father’s motivation, however, for getting her back. He is the chief villain and uses everyone to achieve his political and monetary goals. Elizabeth, as an extremely rich widow of a powerful man, is valuable to her father as a pawn. Elizabeth has spent her life surviving while being used by powerful, manipulative men, especially the greedy relatives of her late husband. The novel is set in 1704, in times when the man who can muster the greatest fighting force is the one to prevail in an argument. Thus, both Johnnie and Elizabeth’s father are mighty contenders who initially both use her to gain an advantage over the other.
Johnnie and Elizabeth become sexually intimate during the kidnapping. However, this is not what binds him to her. It is over a longer period of time, and more meetings, after she has been returned to her father, that the relationship grows. Finally, when Elizabeth is about to marry another, Johnnie steals her away. From that point on, the two grow very much in love. They continue to fight her in-laws who bring a witchunting legal action against her in order to gain control of her fortune. Her father though, is the one who forces them to try to get out of the country after he tries to have Johnny arrested on trumped-up charges. The scenes where Johnnie and Elizabeth have to pull together to survive the forces arrayed against them are very powerful and demonstrate their totally committed love to one another. I found the whole last part of the book a two hanky or more read; their bond ultimately becomes a gripping one.
I’ve also read five other Johnson novels and found this one to be her best. All too often her sexual scenes overpower the development of the characters in the story and their growing love but not in this one. This also has a lot more plot than Johnson’s novels normally do since the heroine constantly has someone after her to use her for political or financial advantage. Nevertheless, the extremely explicit sexual scenes Johnson is known for are also present in the novel. They are not between just the hero and heroine, however, until the latter part of the book. If you have never tried a Johnson novel, this is an excellent one to use as a sounding board for whether you like her style and/or her sexual explicitness.