Thursday, July 13, 2006

Merrily Deceived: A Book Review

One of my all-time favourite romance novels, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's Shanna, opens with a prison scene. There is something about a dark prison and a shadowy, taciturn male hero, not to mention a desperate female, to engage the interest.

Nicola Cornick's recently released Deceived (HQN Romance) starts out similarly. To escape two unpleasant fates, debtors' prison or exile to Europe, Isabella Standish marries a man she believes safely shut away in debtors' prison, a man she jilted at the altar years ago in favour of a European prince. Widowed and left with enormous debt by her wastrel husband, Isabella is unaware that Marcus Stockhaven is no pauper and has vengeance in mind for the lovely princess.

A battle of wits ensues when Stockhaven appears on the scene, disconcerting the remarkably composed heroine. Cornick, a master of the Regency drama, delights the reader with innuendo, double entendre and tonnish scenes aplenty, all rife with tension and suppressed passion. The intervening years have not diminished the chemistry between the characters; in fact, the sexual tension is palpable, as is the pain, distrust and fear of loving again. Isabella and Stockhaven are complex characters battling the events of the past; fortunately, they are totally likable and refreshingly authentic.

In the end not a single soul is deceived, least of all the reader.

Keep an eye out for the other romantic subplots, particularly that of Isabella's sister, known by the ton for her beauty, wit, and acerbic tongue. (A girl after my own heart.)

By the way, few of Woodiwiss's novels have remained on my keeper shelf over the years. My tastes have changed and I have little patience these days for flowery prose. Cornick's novels, on the other hand, are every one of them keepers.

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Blogger Tempest Knight said...

Thanks for the heads-up! I've been running out of books to read, so I might check this one out when I go to Borders on my next shopping spree. *g*

7:41 pm  
Blogger Annie said...

I'm not normally a historical romance reader, but after reading this review, I think I'm about to become one!

9:20 am  

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