by Brenda Hiatt

February 2003
ISBN: 0-06-050758-6
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Miss Rowena Riverstone had long been buried in the countryside and forbidden to come to London - first by her father and after his death, by her brother, because of her radical political views and her penchant for spouting them to anybody without a care in the world. But now, having just celebrated her twenty-first birthday, she’s finally come of age and with a light heart she arrives in London, the seat of England’s power. She’s bursting with eagerness to personally meet all those famous literary personalities and varied political essayists whose works she’d read and been inspired by, and to discuss her views with like-minded, well-educated individuals. Her best friend, Lady Pearl Hardwyck, invites her to stay at her home. There Rowena meets Noel Paxton for the first time and soon begins to lose her heart to this dashing ex-spy!

Noel, formerly well-known in the War Department as Puss in Boots, the top English spy, has always regretted losing that deadly dangerous English traitor known only as the Black Baron, to death at Waterloo. While in retirement, he spots an essay by the anonymous writer, MRR, in the Political Register which strikes him as being eerily familiar to Black Baron’s rhetoric. As the essay has passionately supported the lawless deeds of the notorious Saint of Seven Dials, Noel jumps to the conclusion that the Black Baron has reincarnated himself as the Saint. But this is certainly not the case, as Noel (and the readers) discovered in the previous books in this series. A frustrated Noel decides to don the mantle of the Saint himself, to try and unmask the identity of MRR who, he remains convinced, is the Black Baron. While taking tips as to how to become the Saint from Lord Hardwyck, the man who first created the Saint, he meets and is utterly bowled over by the intelligent though plain Miss Riverstone. What will he do when he discovers Rowena is intimately acquainted with the mysterious MRR?!

This is the third book by author Brenda Hiatt in the Saint of Seven Dials series. As readers will have picked up now, Ms. Hiatt has loosely modeled the Saint after that legendary rogue-hero, Robin Hood - just substitute the green forests of Sherwood with the slums of the bustling metropolis of London and the rest is pretty much same. At the end of each Saint book, we see a happy romantic conclusion for the latest Saint, who then promptly retires from the cloak-and-dagger business and another takes up the mantle, just in time for the next book. This time it’s the turn of the intrepid Bow Street runner Noel Paxton, whom the readers first met in the previous book in this series.

What’s a little disappointing in this book is that, unlike the previous books, here the Saint is rarely active and as a result, the thrill and excitement of his dangerous escapades which greatly livened up the otherwise predictable story, is totally missing. The only worthwhile factor here is the outspoken heroine Rowena, who with her almost seditiously political thinking, is light years ahead of her time and can even be said to be moderately inspiring.

This book is neither spectacularly interesting nor does it put its reader to sleep - average, in other words.

Reviewed in March 2003 by Rashmi.

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