The legendary island nation of Akora has shunned outsiders for centuries, but fate is about to deliver a young Englishwoman into the arms of its prince-and sweep them both into a daring love that knows no boundaries....
Lady Joanna Hawkforte spent her childhood reading about the wondrous beauty of Akora. But now the country of her dreams has become a symbol of her worst nightmare. Nine months ago her brother embarked on a dangerous journey to find the mythic land-and Joanna never heard from him again. Believing he is being held captive in Akora, she is compelled to devise a desperate plan to find him....
The son of an English lord and an Akoran princess, Lord Alex Darcourt has spent months in England on a secret mission. Now he has set sail back to the land of his youth-and to an unknown fate in a nation fraught with unrest. But Alex's discovery of a secret stowaway has thrown his voyage into turmoil. A bold, honey-haired beauty, Joanna has no idea of the danger she's placed herself in. As Alex's ship enters its home port, he hopes he can protect her in a world where she is unwelcome. But his greatest challenge proves to be protecting Joanna from his own smoldering desire-a forbidden passion that could put both their lives in jeopardy.
The fantasy realm of Akora, an ancient island civilization hidden from the world by its geography and its citizens, serves as the backdrop for this fanciful Regency-era romance, the first in a new series from Litton (Come Back to Me). Determined to travel to Akora with Lord Alex Darcourt, a half-English Akoran prince, and search for her missing brother, Royce, Lady Joanna Hawkforte stows away on his ship. She's discovered after she injures herself on board, but Alex, intrigued by her courage and beauty, tends her back to health and introduces her to the customs of his homeland. Despite Akora's party line on female behavior that women should be submissive to their warrior men and treated like birds in a gilded cage Joanna and Alex's sister, Kassandra, roam about Akora freely. In the midst of one of her wanderings, Joanna overhears two men plotting against the leader of Akora, Alex's half-brother. Fortunately, Joanna and Kassandra possess special psychic abilities that may help them rescue Royce and thwart the traitors' plans. Through descriptive and sometimes flowery prose, Litton (aka Maura Seger) conveys the fairy tale-like perfection of Akora, but her protagonists, who also seem pulled straight from a storybook, are only marginally developed. Indeed, this frothy fantasy is driven more by flashy and unlikely action than genuine romantic tension or character development.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 25, 2002
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Excerpt from Dream Island by Josie Litton
June 19, 1811
Damn, it was hot. Not that Alex minded heat ordinarily. Indeed, he liked few things better than shucking off his clothes on a sun-drenched beach and letting the golden warmth touch every inch of his body. But that was a thought for a different time, so far removed from his present circumstances that it might have belonged to a world entirely apart from benighted England.
Worse yet, the heat stank. The combined smells of two thousand bodies, all liberally perfumed, were bad enough but the candles set everywhere in silver sconces and crystal chandeliers throughout the ballroom added the weight of melting wax to the already stultifying air. The odor clung to the heavy blue silk draperies festooned with the white fleur-de-lis in honor of the evening's exalted guests, the exiled French royals whose presence provided a fragile excuse for the Prince Regent to show off his latest extravagance.
The tall windows stood open, admitting not the relief of a freshening breeze but the stench of the London streets beyond and the crowds that still thronged them. Only the select few, if two thousand could be called that, had received the coveted invitation to the unveiling of the newly redecorated Carlton House. For weeks, the sound of teeth gnashing had competed with the frantic drumbeat of entreaties as the neglected jockeyed to avoid social catastrophe. How gladly he would have yielded his entree to anyone who would have it but that had never been a choice. He was, for better or worse, compelled to be precisely where he was, if only for a few more hours.
It was truly a challenge to decide which was worse, the heat, the smell, or the ever-mounting noise as the chattering guests struggled to be heard over each other and the combined efforts of the musicians playing manfully despite the total absence of any room in which to dance. Briefly, he sought distraction of a minor sort with the charming brunette who had attached herself to him shortly after his arrival. Lady Eleanor Lampert was the well-endowed widow of a wealthy lord who had married her when she had scarcely seventeen summers and he had solidly seventy. Presumably, he understood the risk. Dead six months later, it was widely rumored that he departed this world with his banner at an impressive full mast.
So now did Lady Lampert keep herself well amused. She shunned remarriage, being sensible about maintaining her independence, and chose her pleasures with care. He found her a skilled and worldly bedmate, which suited him perfectly. A woman clinging to his arm was acceptable in the short term; one clinging to his life was another matter entirely. When that happened, not if but when for there was no question that he would wed, it would be in that entirely other world for which he found himself so unexpectedly yearning. Duty intervened, keeping him in England longer than he would have liked. But duty was life, life duty. He could hardly complain of the course he himself had set.
All the same, he had to leave soon. Not only this damnable ball but the country itself. His responsibilities were fulfilled, for a time at any rate, and he had been away too long. Just a few more days and he would be free . . .