Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Landlord's Black-Eyed daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis

The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter
Mary Ellen Dennis, Five Star, 2007, $26.95, Hardcover, 419 pages, ISBN: 978-1-59414-575-9

John Randolph Remington leads a double life, one as a nobleman and one as a "Knight of the Road", a notorious brand of highwayman known for ruthless robberies but who always shared the proceeds amongst the less fortunate of society. While in London, Randolph meets gothic romance writer Elizabeth Wyndham, a woman he swears he has met before. Elizabeth Wyndham also believes she has met the mysterious Remington before too. Neither of them can recall the circumstances.

Randolph and Elizabeth share a strong fascination with a legend in the 13th century. Randolph is exactly like the hero in her latest romance, a 13th century knight who died in combat. In fact, she comes to believe they are almost one in the same. Separately, Elizabeth and Randolph search to uncover the truth about the legend and why they both harbor such a fascination with that era.

Lord Walter Stafford romantically pursues Elizabeth, but she is not interested in him; Randolph is the only man who fascinates her. Offended by Elizabeth's rebuff, Stafford pursues Randolph and Elizabeth and arrests them, sending them to Newgate prison where Randolph is due to hang for his crimes as a highwayman.

Elizabeth must write a passionate plea to the king in order to free Randolph from the hangman's noose, just like the legend of the 13th century.

The famous poem, The Highwayman, captured the author's interest in her childhood, and she recreated the plot in this novel. The characters are likeable, but predictable, and I enjoyed how well they interacted with each other. The story-line of this Georgian romance is fast-paced and includes a romance blended with a gothic twist with links to medieval times.

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