by Bertrice Small

February 2003
ISBN: 1575668564
Reviewer Graphic Button Kensington Publishing
Mass Market Paperback

Take three beautiful young women, put them into the sensual environment of the Court of Charles II, and let Bertrice Small tell their stories. What do you have? A triple dose of delight! This book bids a perfect farewell to the Skye O’Malley saga by demonstrating what made Skye so memorable. However, instead of one heroine, who might well have been overwhelmed by her ancestral heritage, Ms. Small wisely gives us three. Putting them into the capable hands of Charles II is a stroke of genius, because here’s a factual monarch who is possibly more fascinating than any fictional hero in any historical romance.

All three heroines owe much to the O’Malley genes, however, and Fancy Devers shows all the signs of being a “chip” off her great-great etc. grandmother’s character. Arriving from the Colonies surrounded by a shroud of scandal, young Fancy catches the King’s roving eye. Spirited and curious, Fancy follows her heart and her instincts without a qualm, much as Skye did generations before her.

Diana, on the other hand, is more cautious, although no less lovely. Intelligent and honest, Diana attracts twin handsome admirers (oh that we readers should have such adorable problems!!). She possesses the brilliant mind which is so typical of the O’Malley women and comes up with some very clever strategies for deciding whom she should wed.

However, it is Cynara, the third “Vixen”, who (in this reviewer’s humble opinion) comes closest to possessing all the traits that have made the O’Malley women so memorable. She’s beautiful, of course, but she’s also determined, stubborn, foolish in some ways and clever in others. She’s the life of the party, an untamed hotbed of passion, and when she sets her sights on her man, get out of her way or get trampled. This is the essence of the O’Malley women, and this is the hope we are left with at the end of this book – their stories may be over, but their indomitable spirit will continue.

It’s certainly sad to see such a wonderful series end, but on the other hand it will be great to read new stories about new heroines who are free to begin their own traditions. I recommend Rosamund to anyone who wants to get a head start on the next set of Bertrice Small classics, and of course this book is an absolute must-read for anyone who has ever relished a Skye O’Malley novel.

Reviewed in January 2003 by Celia.

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