The Wild Baron
The Wild Baron is quite simply one of the most delightful books I’ve read. I applaud the panache and aplomb with which Catherine Coulter has created this diverting Regency-era tale of romance and suspense. While the spine of the book calls it simply a novel, its is part romance, part suspense, part pure farce. It is pure delight, especially for those ex-or-about-to-be-ex Catherine Coulter fans. This book will change your mind. It changed mine.
At the start of this clever tale, Rohan Carrington, Baron Mountvale, sets out to uncover a mystery. How is it possible that his cold fish of a younger brother supposedly “ruined” one Susannah, whom he wed and left penniless before he died? After all, it is Rohan who is the family rake, upholding the reputation of both his studly father and magnificently debauched mother, known throughout England for their charm and philandering ways.
But Rohan is not at all what he seems. Trust me. He is a delightful, wonderful hero who gets caught up in a mystery and falls in love along the way with Susannah, who wasn’t at all lucky with his dead brother George. Susannah, her younger brother, and her little daughter Marianne, are gathered up by Rohan and moved to his country estate, where he plans to look after them and falls in love along the way.
As does Susannah, her younger brother, and her little daughter Marianne, because Rohan is, as I said, a pretty wonderful fellow. Unfortunately, someone wants something that Susannah has, only she doesn’t know what it could be. As the mystery unravels, we meet Rohan’s beautiful and youthful mother, a close friend of Rohan’s who could well be the hero of a sequel, along with some of George’s unsavory friends, who, along with another brother to Rohan, are up to absolutely no good, no good at all.
What with cat races, a limerick-singing horse trainer, a miniature map and tiny key, dead Bishops, reliquaries, etc., Catherine Coulter takes the reader on a fast-moving ride throughout the English and Scottish countryside. There’s a mystery to be solved and Rohan must prove to Susannah that what men and women can do for each other is lovely, not disgusting.
Say what you will, but Catherine Coulter can write a great love scene when she wants to. Surprisingly, this book seemed a bit tame, but my sense is that this book is being marketed more toward the mainstream, so perhaps that’s why. The Wild Baron is utterly captivating. It is a quick, funny, suspenseful read filled with lovable lead characters, enjoyable secondary characters, and a cast of villains that will lead you on a merry chase. The end result of the mystery is outlandish, but this is fantasy and I had no trouble accepting the outcome Ms. Coulter presented.
If you have given up on this author or had contemplated doing so, I suggest giving this author another try and reading this book. If you want to read another Coulter book that presents a wonderful, good-guy hero, I’d suggest Night Fire.
The reason this book won’t be joining my all-time keeper list? Not quite enough sizzle shown between Rohan and Susannah. Though referred to quite a bit and shown in little ways, there weren’t enough actual love-making scenes for this book to earn 5-hearts from me. While love scenes don’t usually make or break a book for me, it’s something I’ve come to expect from this author. When she does it right, she does it better than practically anyone else. When she does it wrong, it is like my colleague Leslie McClain referred to in her review of Rosehaven – about as stimulating as a trip to the OB-GYN.
In the case of The Wild Baron, the love scenes were great, but there weren’t enough. Still, this is a terrific book that should satisfy readers who appreciate good humor, great characters, and fine suspense.