The heather-scented hills of the Scottish highlands come to life in a mesmerizing novel about a wickedly disturbing man who transforms a hardheaded businesswoman into a willing slave of passion.
Johansen offers sex but precious little romance in this adventure tale set in late-19th-century India and Scotland. Jane Barnaby and her guardian, Patrick Reilly, are on the subcontinent building a railroad. Jane has hidden John Kartauk, a brilliant goldsmith who has crossed Prince Abdar, the local maharaja's son. Abdar (who is no more than a generic villain) strikes a deal with Ruel MacClaren and his half-brother, Ian, a pair of Scottish adventurers, to seek out Jane and John. Ruel soon suspects that he'll do better casting his lot with his quarry, and he's right: when he agrees to help Jane get John out of Abdar's clutches, John hands Ruel the secret to dealing with the maharaja. Unfortunately the escape plan goes awry in a horrible accident. Ruel blames Jane for the fiasco, and Johansen devotes much of the rest of this book to Ruel's efforts to make her pay--efforts that reach their nadir in his two-day "orgy of sexual indulgences," designed to debase and humiliate the woman he loves. It's hard to believe this is the same author who displayed such a splendid, light touch in The Wind Dancer.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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November 30, 1992
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Excerpt from The Tiger Prince by Iris Johansen
Chapter One Krugerville, Africa April 3, 1876 Ruel reminded Ian of a beautiful tiger set to pounce. Ruel's right hand gripped a bone-handled knife with deadly competence, and an eager smile curved his lips. Stripped to the waist, his muscles gleaming gold-bronze in the lantern light, blue eyes blazing with fierce joy, he circled the huge mulatto holding the machete. Shock jolted through Ian MacClaren as he peered through the smoke layering the air of the bar at the two men squaring off across the room. Somehow he had not expected Ruel to look so lethal. Yet the reports he had received over the years should have given him some warning, and even as a boy Ruel had never been tame. Certainly no trace of tameness lingered in his brother now. Tiger pad softly, tiger burn bright . . . The scrap of an old verse popped into Ian's mind, underscoring the impression that had leapt into being the instant he had caught sight of Ruel. The boy had always burned with a restless, volatile energy, but now he cast out an almost incandescent vitality. Time had honed and hardened the faultless symmetry of the face Margaret had once described as having the beauty of a fallen angel, but it still held the riveting magnetism it had always possessed. Strands of tawny white-gold laced the dark brown hair he wore tied back in a queue, adding to the tigerish quality of his appearance. The mulatto suddenly sliced out with the machete. Ruel easily avoided the parry and gave a low, pleased laugh. "At last. You were beginning to bore me, Barak." "Don't just stand there." The woman, Mila, grabbed Ian's arm. "You said if I brought you to him, you would help. Barak will kill him." "He certainly appears to be trying," Ian murmured. He had been told when he had arrived in town a few hours earlier that she was only one of the gold camp's whores, but she was clearly emotionally involved with Ruel. The circumstance did not astonish him. Drawn by those wicked good looks and careless, joyous paganism, women had gravitated to Ruel's bed before he had reached puberty. However, Ian was surprised he felt no fear the woman's prophecy would prove true. This Barak towered almost seven feet and his bull-like musculature made Ruel's five-foot-eleven physique appear childlike in comparison. Yet Ian felt Ruel would have no more trouble defeating him than he had the bullies who had taunted his brother as a child. "I believe we'll wait and watch awhile. Ruel never liked me to interfere in these matters." The giant mulatto made another lunge, and Ruel's torso arched catlike as the blade just missed digging into his belly. "Better," Ruel laughed. "But not good enough. God, you're clumsy." Barak roared with anger and lunged again. But Ruel was no longer there. He had danced with lightning swiftness to the left, and a red slash suddenly appeared on Barak's side. "As clumsy with the machete as you are at dealing from the bottom of the deck. I could teach you a bit about both." He circled the huge man with the quickness of a mongoose with a cobra. "But I don't really think it would be worthwhile. I hate to waste my time, when you'll be dead soon anyway." Ian stiffened, jarred back to the realization that this was no childhood fight that would end only with black eyes and scraped knuckles. He turned to the woman. "I think we'd better go get the local magistrate to stop this." She gazed at him in bewilderment. "Magistrate?" "The law," he said impatiently. "There's no law here," she said. "Youmust stop it. Barak wants Ruel's claim. He cheated only to make Ruel angry enough to fight so he could kill him." Ian muttered a curse as he looked around the crowded bar. God knows he was no more