The Lion’s Embrace

Written by Marie Laval
Review by Charlotte Wightwick

Harriet Montagu’s archaeologist father has been kidnapped in the Barbary States. Only Lucas Saintclair, a rude and uncouth local guide, and his band of disreputable fighters can help her in her quest across the desert to save him.

So begins Marie Laval’s romance set in the 19th-century Sahara. There is all you would expect from such a premise – fights in souks and in desert gorges, secret maps leading to fabulous treasure, a plot involving a mysterious silver ring, a sinister band of powerful conspirators, murder, betrayal and misunderstandings galore. And lions, both real and metaphorical. Also as expected, there’s a hefty dose of initially-suppressed chemistry between our hero (brooding, secretive, more sensitive than he lets on) and heroine (feisty, independent, yet yearning for strong arms to hold her close.)

Think Indiana Jones with 19th-century clothing or The Mummy without, um, the mummy and you won’t be far off (although the corsets and breeches get taken off rather more often and explicitly than in either of these family films). Although I wasn’t always convinced of its accuracy as a historical novel, as an adventure romance this is an enjoyable read, full of incident and colour. Entertaining.