Romance authors who develop a family or series of characters often create a sense of community for their audience. Readers feel that they are a part of the clan vicariously through reading about the adventures. Stephanie Laurens has created that kind of feeling for readers with her Cynster family series and their friends. In WHAT PRICE LOVE? she brings back Dillon Caxton, whom readers met in A ROGUE'S PROPOSAL.
Now meet 24-year-old Priscilla Dalling, a young Irish woman whose good looks and green eyes disguise an intelligent and daring personality. Her twin brother, Lord Russell Dalling, is "horse-mad." All of his life, he has wanted to work with horses and to train an Irish Derby winner. Their father, the Earl of Kentwood, disapproves heartily. Despite the Earl's objections, Russ leaves home and goes to work for Lord Cromarty as a horse trainer.
Soon after, Pris receives a letter from Russ telling her that he believes the head stableman could be involved in a horse breeding racket. He says he will go to Newmarket to learn more about the bloodline registry at the Jockey Club. Concerned for her brother, Pris follows with her paternal aunt and her aunt's goddaughter to find him.
Enter the irresistibly handsome and charismatic Dillon Caxton. As a wild and reckless youth with a quest for excitement and thrills, Dillon was blackmailed into a nefarious scheme dealing with horse race fixing. His dear cousin Flick, married to a member of the Cynster family, comes to his aid and promptly finds herself in serious trouble. When Dillon steps in to save her, he ends up getting shot. Considering the wound reasonable payment for putting someone so close to him in harm's way, Dillon sets out to restore his reputation. He is now Keeper of the Register, which holds the bloodlines of all the racing horses in England.
Pris arrives in Newmarket in search of her brother. As twins, she and Russ know how the other thinks. Pris is convinced that if she can figure out what is in the registry, it will explain why her brother is looking for it. So off she goes to the Jockey club, where she encounters Dillon.
Pris has always known that her looks and voice mesmerize most men, knowledge she intends to use to her advantage. Her charms only work on Dillon to a small degree, as he has his own handsome looks with which he expects to captivate Pris. Is this the beginning of a match of wits, looks, charm and intelligence? Is this couple made for one another? Will they be able to recognize the best of each other when others only see them at face value? The reader is ready to find out how this couple will get together and stay together, anticipating that "happy ending."
When Pris tries to gain information from Dillon, he questions her motives. As they both make use of their powerful attraction to each other, Dillon reveals his unhappy past. His confidence encourages Pris to tell her own story and Dillon decides to help. Together they locate Russ, only to discover that the perpetrators of the massive betting swindle are threatening his life. Dillon well understands how a young man can get caught up in damaging schemes and sets out to help Rus. He enlists the assistance of his cousin Flick, her husband Demon, and friend Barnaby Adair. Together with Pris, they embark on a dangerous adventure to determine who Russ's deadly enemies really are. As they work to uncover the sinister truth, they realize nearly too late that Pris also may be in danger.
This fanciful historical romance does exactly what it is supposed to do --- the story transports the reader to another place and time and takes them on an adventure they could only imagine in their daydreams. With its exciting backdrop of horse racing and the sensual sparks between Pris and Dillon, this book never stops making the reader want to turn to the next page.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on January 24, 2011