Promise of Pleasure
Berkley, Apr 2010, $7.99
In 1814 in rural England twenty five year old Mary Barnes is treated with disdain by her half sister eighteen years old spoiled Felicity who abuses her as a poor relation servant. Mary’s widowed stepmother Victoria is as horrific towards her; only widow step-sister Cassandra does not mistreat her. Wastrel Viscount Jordan Winthrop is staying at Barnes Manor as he is expected to propose to Felicity for her money; while Mary has waited a decade for her neighbor Harold Talbot to marry her.
Jordan meets Mary and assumes she is a servant. He flirts with her and tells her she is pretty. She later sees him making love with Lauretta. She flees from him, but he watches her in the woods where she kisses Henry who is upset by her boldness; she also is upset as she felt nothing.
Victoria tells him who Mary he is, which stuns him as he know he treated her shabbily. He kisses Mary and tells her he wants to do it again. Peddler Philippe Dubois sells her the Spinster’s Cure with the understanding she not pay until it proves successful by getting her true love to marry her. She drinks the potion ready for Harold to appear, but Jordan does instead. Desperate after another nasty incident with Felicity, Mary puts potion in his wine. That night he sneaks in her room. Soon they are having a tryst. Felicity, Victoria and Jordan’s mistress Lauretta try to end the relationship between the lovers.
The first Spinster’s Cure is a fun adult version of Cinderella with a strong lead couple and a solid support cast who with several neat twists seem to have stepped out of the fairy tale into the Regency sub-genre. Ironically, the wicked stepmother and stepsister mirror the fairy tale, but neither possesses any redeeming qualities while Philippe is a superb spin on the fairy godmother. Fans will enjoy this fine Regency romance as Jordan must choose between love and money.