"Gorgeous petite jet-setting playgirl in arranged marriage with handsome Russian!" - this could well have been the tabloid headline for the first chapter of this book. Poor Daisy Devereaux, at her father's insistence, is forced down the aisle to become Mrs. Alex Markov. A simple plot device, but remember, folks, this is Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and nothing is quite as it seems. In what she hopes will be a simple business arrangement, Daisy intends to reclaim her finances and pay off her erstwhile husband - a practical solution to what Daisy sees as both their problems. Oh honey, you're so wrong!
Alex Markov, brooding, handsome (of course) and with a really bad attitude towards women he considers to be little better than useless, money-grubbing leeches, has no intention of allowing Daisy to slip through his fingers. And he's no businessman either, but part owner of, and performer in, a small, run-down circus!! Instead of the hotel Daisy had expected to spend the night in, Alex takes her "home" - an ugly and filthy caravan parked with the rest of the circus folk in a field next to the Big Top! Wow - talk about culture shock. Here is where Ms. Phillips starts setting the story on fire.
Daisy Devereaux is a woman too often judged by appearance and reputation, and Alex has made the unforgivable mistake of doing both. While there were many times early on in this novel when I wanted to kick Daisy, eventually she started allowing her real personality to emerge. Her fight for acceptance and respect is painful and honest, and we ache with her; her rapport with the lost and lonely circus animals is incredible, and eventually we cheer as she begins to make something of her life and her marriage. It's nice to see Mr. 'I'm-everything-you're-nothing' Markov get his comeuppance, although by this time, we kind of like him too.
There are secondary characters in abundance, some good, some bad, all possessed of human strengths and weaknesses, and all very well blended into this wonderful mix. Alex and Daisy are a perfect romantic couple - we (experienced romance readers that we are) know they are destined to be together, but this plot is hard to predict and there's always an element of uncertainty! The sex is hot and passionate; the settings are wonderful, and the overall sense of involvement is superb. So grab some popcorn, a soft drink, and your clown nose - it's time to take a trip to the circus and watch an exhilarating and romantic show!!!