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Lessons in French    by Laura Kinsale order for
Lessons in French
by Laura Kinsale
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Laura Kinsale is considered one of the pioneers of the brooding or damaged hero in romance novels. Books like Flowers from the Storm, The Prince of Midnight, and most notably Shadow Heart (featuring one of her darkest heroes, assassin Allegreto) became instant classics. Now after a lengthy hiatus, Kinsale is back - but with a story much lighter in character, tone and plot.

Lessons in French introduces two engaging leads. Thrice jilted heiress Callista Taillefaire has resigned herself to a spinster's life and spends her days immersed in the care and breeding of her prize-winning cattle - in particular her pet bull Hubert. When her cousin loses the big animal to a gambling debt, Callie is heartbroken. Despite her shy and retiring nature, she is determined to get Hubert back. No amount of money, however, will tempt Hubert's new owner into relinquishing the award winning bovine.

Callista's childhood sweetheart, Trevelyn Monceaux, has returned home to see to his ailing mother after nine years abroad. Trev's mother is certain that her prodigal son is back from France to announce that he's finally won back their lost lands and title. Trev is happy to appease his seriously ailing mother - and Callie. However, the truth of the matter is he's a fugitive with a price on his head. That a suspicious magistrate and an old enemy from the Peninsular war are underfoot only makes his situation more precarious. But when Callie's beloved pet bull goes missing, he will do what he must to make things right for the only woman he's ever loved - even sacrifice his freedom, or his life.

While the plot and characters of Lessons in French are rather conventional, Kinsale's gift for smart and effervescent dialogue is clearly evident, especially during those scenes where Callie and Trev are onstage - and in particular, when Trev concocts a hare brained scheme to recover and then hide Hubert 'in plain sight'. The situation gives the pair plenty of opportunity to get re-acquainted and of course realise that they are meant to be together.

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