by Shannon Drake

April 2005
ISBN: 0-373-77033-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Harlequin
Mass Market Paperback

Brian Stirling, the Earl of Carlye, better known as The Beast, has lived in near seclusion inside his castle since his parent’s death. A year before, while on a dig in Egypt, they were bitten by asps and died as a result. Brian however doesn’t believe it was an accident; he’s convinced they were murdered.

Camille Montgomery knows the rumors about the Beast of Carlyle, but when her guardian is caught trespassing on the Earl’s property she doesn’t hesitate to pay a visit and demand his release. Brian however needs Camille’s help to reenter society and so he basically blackmails her into attending a ball with him.

Brian hides behind a mask, but Camille doesn’t attribute this to the reason he’s called the Beast. She blames his attitude and stubbornness. At first she thinks he’s insane for believing his parent’s deaths were anything but an accident, but as they start to reveal clues she begins to wonder if he might possibly be correct.

Camille works at deciphering Egyptian manuscripts as part of her job at the museum, and when she stumbles across a particular passage she unwittingly puts herself in danger. Despite the Earl’s insistence she not get involved, she begins her own investigation. And despite all her co-workers warnings that she’s not safe staying with the Earl, she finds the only dangerous thing about him is the way he makes her feel.

The relationship between these two starts out with them butting heads, and doesn’t really change much. They are both stubborn and spirited and Camille is standing up for women’s rights long before it became fashionable. Brian respects her beliefs and her attitude, but he’s also a strong willed man who expects to get his way.

Although I found the relationship between these two hard to accept, the mystery that was a major part of the book was very engaging and suspenseful. There were also great secondary characters that kept the book lively and fun.

Reviewed in March 2005 by Jackie.

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