by Cheryl Holt

September 2004
ISBN: 0-312-99283-1
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

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Captain Stephen Chamberlain came back from the battle in Salamanca, Spain wounded in both body and spirit. Frustrated with the well-meaning assistance of his father and the quacks (doctors) determined to cut off his leg, he lashes out at everyone and deteriorates even further. With the intervention of his sister, Elizabeth and his friend and comrade, Charles, Stephen is transported to Mrs. Anne Smytheís Health Spa and Emporium. It is said that the water in the hot springs have magical properties. Hopefully Anne will be able to help him heal his wounds and take his place in London society once more.

Mrs. Anne Smythe is a widow who has spent most of her life taking care of ailing women. When she inherited her property from a former employer, she opened her spa with the intention of helping other ailing and elderly women feel better. When she has Captain Chamberlain dumped on her doorstep, she is furious. She is only open to women and really has no time to take care of a man. Especially a vain, selfish aristocrat like the Captain. She is mainly concerned for her reputation, social standing in Bath as well as her business. She didnít want it to be said that she is running a whorehouse. When she finds herself attracted to him, she does her best to crush these feelings because she knows they have no future together. After all, the son of an Earl canít marry a bastard, besides Stephen is already betrothed.

Anne and Stephen give into their desire and lust for each other and embark on a lusty affair with each other, knowing that in the end he will leave and she will be heartbroken. Personally I thought they were both stupid. Anne because she puts up with his crap, accepts his shallow reasons for having to leave and the fact the she has sex with him, knowing he is engaged to be married to someone else, leaving herself open to heartache and pain. Stephen is a vain, selfish, aristocrat who really doesnít see anything wrong with actions. He feels totally justified in taking advantage of her innocence (did I mention that Anne is actually a virgin spinster, masquerading as a widow?) and then leaving her when he was healed.

Ms. Holt has populated her world with a number of cookie cutter, stereotypical historical characters. They are wooden, emotionless and totally unappealing. I felt no passion between them and felt as if I was watching a train wreck. I, unfortunately, cannot recommend this book. I had a hard time finishing it and will definitely not read anything else by this author.

Reviewed in August 2004 by Carolyn.

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