Review by: Sarah
Title: The Lady and The Unicorn
Author: Iris Johansen
Blurb: Rafe Santine is under doctor’s orders: He needs to stay put in his coastal California mansion for two months to recuperate from the pneumonia that nearly killed him. Despite a retinue of mistresses to keep the powerful tycoon occupied, Rafe struggles against boredom—until a stunning woman literally drops onto his estate. She has high demands of him, but Rafe has even greater demands of her. He knows instantly that he must possess every facet of the enigmatic Janna. But the only thing she’ll give him is her body—and for the first time in his life, that is not enough for Rafe.
Janna Cannon is willing to risk it all to save the endangered animals of the wild animal reserve where she works as a game warden. With the land they depend on pulled out from under them, Janna must take a gambit to convince billionaire Santine to give the reserve the real estate they need to keep the animals free. And she’ll need to sneak onto the man’s vast, highly protected property to do it. Much to her surprise, Santine agrees to grant her the land—if Janna agrees to give him herself in exchange. And what begins as luxurious captivity soon turns into an emotional awakening she never expected.
Thoughts: This is a reprint of one of Iris Johansen's books that she wrote for the classic Loveswept series in 1983. I actually read this book many years ago, but it was really nice to re-visit this book! Iris Johansen was actually my favorite author until she started delving more into the mystery/thriller genre rather than the romance novels I am familiar with from her. While I understand her wanting to branch out as an author, I miss her romances something fierce!! Her older books are favorites of mine that I revisit frequently, though it has been awhile since I read this particular one.
In this book, we have billionaire Rafe Santine, who is growing bored during his forced recuperation after an illness. When a lovely intruder finds her way past the walls to his castle - and casts a spell over his guard dogs - he thinks he might have just found something to relieve his boredom. But in the lovely Janna, he may have bit off more than he can chew.
Janna Cannon is passionate about the protection of wildlife - particularly that of endangered animals - and she has come to plead with Rafe to grant them the two million dollar land for a wild animal preserve. But when she's forced to remain on Rafe's estate for two months in exchange, will she find herself losing her heart in the process?
Keep in mind when you are reading these novels, how much the romance genre has changed over the years. Again, this book was written in 1983, so if you haven't read a lot of the classic romance novels from the 80's or from previous years, you might react to the characters and/or the story a little differently. Rafe may come off as a bit dominant and callous compared to today's typical male leads, and Janna is so passive and accepting - and even serene - in the face of this treatment that at times it can seem a bit unrealistic. There are also a few things said throughout the book that are not exactly politically and culturally correct today. (One example, is Rafe referring to her as 'Pocahontas' because of her Native American heritage) But if you can keep in mind when this book was released, and overlook a few things like that, it really is a great read.
Yet, in some ways this book is also a little before it's time - I particularly liked when Janna took Rafe off guard by referring to sex a nothing but a 'biological coupling' - which was a pretty modern view to take back then. And it incenses him to no end throughout the book that she might feel that way about ther lovemaking. And while Rafe is gruff on the exterior, he becomes soft, sweet, and sentimental with Janna - once she 'tames the beast'. The lengths he goes through to keep her with him, and the soft side he displays that is such a contradiction to his character that it had my heart skipping a beat in numerous places throughout the novel. And Janna, while she may seem passive compared to today's heroines, manages to not fall completely under his thumb. She finds small ways in which to show her rebellious streak. And the fact that Rafe realizes that he must soften and change is really quite endearing.
While this book is not my favorite of hers, it does come in somewhere in the top. In my opinion, Johansen is one of the most romantic writers I have ever read. I love her stories from Loveswept! Her books always wring such emotions from me. I love seeing such strong male characters ultimately fall apart at the feet of the women that they love in order to win them forever. Beautiful tale that is definitely a "keeper"!