Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Scarlet Bride-Cheryl Ann Smith

The Scarlet Bride

Cheryl Ann Smith

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250815

Simon Harrington hears a woman cry and sees two footmen accost a female. He rescues Laura and takes her to a home where sisters Eva and Noelle sponsor a school to rescue courtesans. Laura fears her patron Earl of Westwick who held her prisoner for fourteen months in a locked room while torturing her; she expects him to kill her. He was selling Sabine as he called her at an auction when she escaped.

Two weeks later, Laura feels good as her enemy has not found her. Simon asks her to come help him decorate an estate he just bought. She agrees but is shocked as the estate was owned by her cousin and she and her late dad lived there. She even married here but her husband said they never wed as the parson was a fake. He used her as his sex prisoner. Simon admires Laura’s spirit that was not broken. A storm forces them to spend the night there. Laura and Simon make love. Later Laura learns Westwick was murdered allegedly by his missing courtesan Sabine. Simon plans to find the real killer.

The third School for Brides Regency romance (see An Accidental Courtesan) nicely sets the time and place mostly through how much power a male exerts over a female. The heroine is a courageous person who suffered terrible abuse, but never lost her spirit; while the lead male is a strong person. Although the killer gets in and out of secure places too easily and two early major coincidences involving random encounters seem improbable, fans will appreciate this investigative historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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