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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Don't Over-Think It; Just Sit Back and Enjoy the WTFery.

The Lion's Lady - Julie Garwood

I picked this up on sale a few months ago when I saw it recommended by Smart Bitches Trashy Books. I'd only ever read one other Garwood romance (Saving Grace, a Scottish medieval). When I opened this on my kindle this weekend and read the prologue (all about a Native American shaman's cryptic dream about a white mountain lion), my first thought was, "Oh, what have I gotten myself into?" I avoid that subcategory of historical romance that prominently feature Native Americans, because I find them... well, racist, honestly. There's no sense in beating around the bush.


However, A Lion's Lady was a pleasant surprise. Although this, like Saving Grace, is very much a wallpaper historical, Garwood at least did enough basic research into the culture and rituals of the Dakota Sioux to avoid being patently offensive. The heroine, Christina, was raised by the Dakota and very much loves her adoptive family, and so her attitude toward them and their customs is positive and respectful rather than sneeringly superior.


The premise of this story is really quite ridiculous, but that's actually a good thing if one is willing to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. Christina's mother, Jessica, married the ruler of an obscure European nation (so obscure Garwood doesn't even bother to name it). Upon discovering that her prince was actually a cruel dictator and a cheating philanderer, she stole the crown jewels (intending to return the riches to the mistreated people of this unnamed country). Presumably unable to find a bank that could handle the jewels-for-cash transaction, Jessica buried the gems in her father's garden instead, then fled to America to get as far away from her husband before giving birth to their child. She eventually joined a wagon train heading west, but fled into the woods with baby Christina when the Dastardly Hubby murdered her traveling companions. There, she came upon a Sioux woman being raped by a Crow warrior, and she kills the Crow and she and Merry (the Sioux) (and their children, as Merry is also accompanied by her six-year-old son) winter together in an abandoned cabin in the woods until Jessica is either mauled to death by a bear or by her crazed ex (the story leaves some ambiguity on that point). Merry brings both children back to her people and raises Christina as her own child.


Fast-forward sixteen years: Christina has learned English (and French!) and gone to England with her evil aunt to fulfill some vague promise to her long-dead mother. She's armed with her mother's journal, so she knows Daddy is a Bad Guy, and we quickly learn that Christina has been left a fortune by her grandfather which will go to Daddy-Baddy unless Christina marries by her 19th birthday. Enter Lyon, who is a retired hitman for the Crown. He's the perfect protector for Christina, since he kills people for a living (but only if they deserve it!). They exchange humorous banter (made all the more entertaining by the fact that Christina has learned English but has no sense of idioms, so she takes everything literally in an Amelia Bedelia-esque way), noisy arguments that culminate with Christina cutting her hair in a mourning ritual, have lots of fairly vanilla sex, and then there's a big confrontation with Daddy-Baddy involving, of course, the stolen jewels.


Don't overthink it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.