Avon, Feb 2009, $13.99
In 1876 Naples, twenty-two year old Louisa Clemens knows her time as the nursery maid to six years old twins Prudence and Hester is coming to an end as they need a governess. She loves her wards, but knows her lack of education prohibits her from becoming the governess to the Winterbottom family shehas been with for six years.
Merchant Mr. Winterbottom hosts a dinner for Moroccan carpet vendor Khair Bey in which Khair and Louisa meet. Later he sneaks into her room for a tryst, but leaves after he learns she is a virgin. The next day following a spirited game of cheating croquet with the girls, Khair and Louisa make love. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses. Instead she quits her post and heads home to England. Pirates stop her ship and the merchants hand her over as a sex slave so they can safely leave with their merchandise. She is put on a slave block for sale in which only Khair bids and takes her to his home. As they fall in love, he wants her as his only wife, but knows he must tell his beautiful English rose the truth about her captivity.
This character driven late nineteenth century erotic romance is kept fresh by Khair, a unique protagonist. His concept of children compared with Mrs. Winterbottom makes one wonder who is “civilized” as he insists parents need to raise their children not servants; in fact he initially assumed Louisa was a relative. His attitude towards Louisa is she is unprotected so he can go for her. Although his methods are high handed as he forces honest Mr. Winterbottom to cede his protection of her and of course his captive ploy, fans will relish this fine heated historical as the English rose proves to be the equal of the Moroccan aristocrat.