On The Shelf: Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady

He’s fought for his country, now he’s fighting for his heart.

The battlefields of Badajoz are nothing compared to the cutting tongues of polite society, but Jack Vernon has never been very “polite.” A canvas is this brooding artist’s preferred company—having once been the outlet for the horror he witnessed at war, it’s now his fortune.

Painting the portrait of stunningly beautiful Ariana Blane is his biggest commission yet. Learning every curve of her body ignites feelings he thought were destroyed in battle. But he’s not the only man who has Ariana in his sights....

In writing Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady RITA Award winning author Diane Gaston has created a true page turner. Really. I picked up the book at 7 p.m., and the next time I looked at the clock it was 9 o'clock. I finished it at 10:30 - read straight through! While the story is touted as a romance, and it is that, it's so much more - it's a richly detailed tale peopled with characters who are not only believable, but who ring true.  I never once wanted to kick a character in the arse and scream, "For God's sake get on with it/open your mouth/grow up/use your head and move the plot along!"

Jack Vernon is a talented artist plagued by waking nightmares of the horrors of Badajoz, Ariana Blane is the gorgeous actress who intrigues him since their first meeting at the Royal Academy. But one of the backers of the play Ariana currently appears in is the odious Tranville, who wants Ariana for himself. No matter that Tranville has made Jack's widowed mother his mistress for years and made the family beholden to him through his financial support. As if that isn't enough for a wealth of plot twists and turns, there's Jack's sister, the sweet natured Nancy, and the matter of the plans surrounding her upcoming marriage - deviously arranged by Tranville. And, the entire plot is deliciously tied up and culminates on the field of Waterloo! You can read the first chapter here.

I so enjoyed Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady that I immediately went online to buy The Mysterious Miss M, which reviews say is Diane's tour de force. For all the news about Diane's past and future books, you can visit her website here.