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Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Lord Jack by Hope Tarr

My Lord Jack by Hope Tarr
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Former French courtesan Claudia Valemont can't believe her life has come to this: standing in front of a Scottish judge, sentenced to death for stealing a horse. She fled France to find her father and escape the hangman's noose. Now here she is, facing the same fate—alone, desperate and penniless.

"Hold! I will speak for her."

Burly Scottish hangman Jack Campbell takes pride in his work: serving justice and giving the condemned a quick end to their sorry lives. Why he spoke for that pale, hollow-eyed Frenchwoman he'll never know. But now he's stuck with her—assigned to be her keeper for six months' indenture.

Bound together by the rules of her sentence, Jack and Claudia learn to appreciate their differences. But as their wary affection turns to tender desire, secrets from the past appear and threaten to destroy their future...

Can a hangman and a refugee of the French Revolution learn to live under the same roof?

With France in chaos, Claudia barely escaped the mobs with her life. Determined to find her father, a Scottish nobleman, she finds herself alone and penniless in a strange land. Unable to afford the rest of the trip to her father’s land, she makes the unfortunate decision of trying to steal a horse. Caught before she even gets the horse out of the stall, she finds herself facing death yet again. Just as the sentence is about to be imposed, Jack Campbell, the hangman himself, speaks for her.

Claudia and Jack find themselves stuck with each other for the next six months. As Claudia attempts to cope with her new circumstances, she finds herself attracted to her rescuer. Jack also finds himself attracted to Claudia. Soon the chemistry between them sparks. However, Jack’s half brother, Callum, hates Jack deeply and will do anything to see Jack’s happiness destroyed. Claudia’s past comes back to haunt her in the form of her father, who is not the benevolent figure she’s always imagined. Will Jack and Claudia fall prey to Callum’s schemes? Will Claudia’s father insist on shaping her future?

Claudia is the classic fish out of water. Her life as a courtesan in France wasn’t perfect, but it is what she was used to. Life in Scotland with Jack is rougher and much simpler. At first Claudia hates it and plans to escape as soon as possible. However, she gradually grows to respect the people in Jack’s village. I enjoyed watching her transform from a pampered courtesan to a strong and caring woman. As Claudia’s attraction to Jack grows, she is still upset by his occupation. Her last memories of France are of bloody executions in the street, and she can’t help but view Jack in the same light. She knows Jack is a gentle man, but will she be able to overcome her prejudice against his occupation?

Jack proved to be one of the gentlest executioners I have the pleasure of reading about. He genuinely respects all forms of life from the people in his community to the mouse that lives in his home. He sees his position as an executioner as a way to ensure that justice is done, and he takes pride in making sure that those he must hang do not suffer. Claudia is unlike any woman he’s ever known. At first he is annoyed and frustrated by her. He finds himself endeared by her innocence in some matters and intimidated by her experience in others. Despite his conflicting emotions, it isn’t long before he discovers he’s fallen in love with her.

One of the things that I liked most about My Lord Jack was that Claudia and Jack were able to learn from each other. Jack teaches Claudia to appreciate the more simple things in life while she teaches him to dance. Claudia is also more experienced in the bedroom. Many stories I’ve read have portrayed the woman as a virgin with the man being more knowledgeable. It was interesting to have these roles reversed, and it made for a very touching love scene between Claudia and Jack.

Jack’s occupation also proved to be quite interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever read a story where the hero was a hangman. I wasn’t sure how this would figure in to the story, but Ms. Tarr makes it work seamlessly. Jack’s position not only allows him to save her at the beginning of the story, but is also instrumental in saving her later on in the story as well.

I enjoyed reading My Lord Jack. The characters were endearing and the romance was touching. Fans of historical romance will certainly want to pick up a copy.