by Patricia Grasso

June 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-6872-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Gloriously beautiful Angelica Douglas works in the marketplace cheating at dice. It's the only way to help feed her family her sisters are pickpockets and their aunt is a charlatan fortuneteller. That is the sad fate of the once wealthy and titled Duncan women. Of course, they still have their titles of nobility, but a scheming crook robbed her father, the Earl of Melrose, of all his money and lands, and now he lies in bed and drinks himself into a stupor - (the poor, unfortunate man) - while his daughters must cheat and steal for a living.

Despite this, Angelica wants only to take revenge on the men who ruined her father, and one of them, she thinks, is Magnus Campbell, Duke of Inerary. One day, in the market, who should fall for her charms, but a devilishly handsome man, Rob Roy, who just happens to be Magnus's son. He hears her sad tale, and helps cure her father who has drunk a bottle of lavander perfume and nearly dies. Rob goes to speak to his father, Magnus, who is shocked to hear the tragic tale, for he was always a friend of the Earl of Melrose. He decides his son must marry Angelica. Rob, despite being very attracted to Angelica, and taking her virginity, does not want marriage.

The book goes downhill from there.

Already, in the beginning I wanted to strangle the heroine, Angelica. Her father has drunk the family into oblivion, and all she can think of is revenge on the men who caused his downfall. Fine, he was swindled. But that doesn't mean he has to start drinking and neglect his family. He forces his daughters to become thieves! At the same time, the sight of bruises on a little girl's arm makes Angelica determined to take the girl from her mother. She pardons her father while condoning everyone else. She sleeps with Rob the first time they are alone together, and yet I couldn't discern the slightest sign she was in love. Near the end, she finds out her husband (yes, of course they marry, but I could never figure out why) had a child by another woman and never told her. She goes to get the child (surprise! It's the little girl with bruises on her arm!) and tells her husband he has to form a relationship with the child, or she'll divorce him.

I made myself read to the end, although I cringed through the entire book. If you like improbable storylines, ridiculous characters and the words 'jewel of her womanhood', jewel of her desire', or 'dewy pearl' are used to describe a woman's clitoris, then you'll enjoy this book. But borrow it from a library.

Reviewed in August 2002 by Jennifer.

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