Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The School for Brides-Cheryl Ann Smith

The School for Brides
Cheryl Ann Smith
Berkley Sensation, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780425240502

Miss Eva Black runs a school for courtesans trying to retire from their previous occupation. Dressed as a grim spinster, she teaches her students how to behave as proper wives as well as finding them proper husbands. Besides concealing her beauty, she hides the fact that her mother was a courtesan; something that always embarrassed Eva.

Fuming aristocrat Nicholas Drake arrives at Eva’s school demanding she return to him his favorite mistress Arabella that she stole from him or he will use his ducal affluence to destroy her and her school. Eva detests the arrogant lord for his highhanded ways, but is also attracted to him. She accepts his demand that she replace his former mistress, married with a child on the way, as he holds her debts. Nicholas assumed he would scare the stern spinster while breaking her, but Eva teaches him to never judge a book by its cover.

The School for Brides is a warm gender war historical romance as the spinster and the aristocrat battle for supremacy. Like the heroine, readers will be affronted by Nicholas’ attitude towards women, but she proves a worthy mentor-teacher. Although the background never full anchors the era, fans will cheer on the courtesan’s daughter as she challenges the arrogant duke on his turf.

Harriet Klausner

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