by Tracy Cozzens

September 2003
ISBN: 0-8217-7451-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

In 1895 New York City, Manhattan socialite Clara Carrington opens the door to her family’s 5th Avenue mansion to find a very ill, unkempt young British Army Captain. Captain Stone Hawke was sent to the Carringtons by Clara’s sister, Pauline and her husband Nathaniel, in hopes that the Carrington family will take Stone in and nurse him back to health. The Captain is deathly sick with malaria, picked up while serving in India. Not only physically ill, Captain Hawke is devastated and heartsick over the loss of his men and his fiancé from an explosion that happened in India, leaving him nearly the only survivor.

Clara, already a ministering angel to the poor of New York City, although completely unbeknownst to her parents, reaches out to the Captain, immediately bringing him in and trying to make him comfortable. It matters not at all to Clara that she hasn’t yet received the letter from her sister introducing Stone. All she sees is a sick and despairing man in need of help and she will do all she can to bring him back to health.

Stone cannot believe that this sweet and caring beauty could even be interested in taking care of him, much less to actually enjoy his company. He has so much guilt over the explosion incident in India that he feels unworthy of anyone’s compassion or concern. He is nonetheless hopelessly intrigued by the unselfish and optimistic Clara and is drawn to her both physically and emotionally. When he realizes that Clara has serious feelings for him, he deliberately leaves the Carrington mansion and disappears because he doesn’t want to bring any harm to her. But it soon becomes apparent that Clara is just as stubborn as the Captain as she quickly goes out into the streets to find the ailing man and bring him back to the mansion so she can nurse him back to health.

Naturally, Clara’s father has an ambitious young man he feels is more suited to Clara who everyone tries to foist upon her and Clara herself tries very hard to like him. But her heart belongs to the man no one believes is good for her and she will have him, if she has to fight everyone in her family and Stone himself.

A 5th Avenue Affair is a sweet romance that is part of Tracy Cozzens’ “American Heiresses” series. It is hard for me to rate this book very high because I felt like the story could have been fleshed out more, with a little more background on both Clara and Stone and it just didn't hold my attention. I do however applaud Clara for standing up for whom she loves and the ideals that she believes in at a time in history when women weren’t really supposed to think too much for themselves. Fans of this continuing series will not be disappointed.

Reviewed in April 2004 by Vivian.

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