TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING – Susan Gee Heino
Sophie Darshaw worked as a seamstress for Madame Eudora in a brothel for four years. After that, she took a job with Mr. Fitzgelder as a maid, hoping to find better employment. Mr. Fitzgelder turns out to be a lecherous man who would have raped Sophie if it weren’t for the intervention of the Earl of Lindley. She meets a group of performers at Mr. Fitzgelder’s home who are performing for his friends. Attempting to get help from Miss Sands of the troupe, she inadvertently gets involved in the earl’s investigation. Miss Sands makes plans to take Sophie away from the evil house, but before they can leave, they overhear a murder being planned by Mr. Fitzgelder. He has hired two men to murder his cousin, Anthony Rastmoor. They also hear him maintain that Sophie has stolen jewelry from him. Lindley also overhears the murder plans as he quietly sneaks around the house. Not knowing what the earl is up to, Miss Sands and Sophie believe that he may be as evil as Mr. Fitzgelder.
Julia St. Clement goes by the name of Miss Sands in her acting troupe. As she and Sophie leave to warn Anthony Rasmoor what they have overheard, Sophie is surprised to find a locket in her pocket. How did it get there? Is it the jewelry that Mr. Fitzgelder said she stole? The women realize that Lindley’s man has been following them so they evade him before they catch a ride on a wagon. All the while, Julia is disguised as a young man, but Lindley sees through her disguise. He also plans to go to Warwick, but stops to see Eudora before he leaves town. She asks him to come see her when he returns from Warwick. He knows he did not tell her where he was going, so how does she know he is going to Warwick? What is going on? Is Eudora just a madame of a brothel, or something more?
Some unusual things happen on the trip that will continue to have readers wondering and reading to find out what will happen next as events take place at a fast pace.
TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING is a bit confusing at first. Who is Lindley working for, and why is he investigating Mr. Fitzgelder, an evil man he has pretended to befriend? He has seen Sophie various times sewing at Eurora’s and then again at Mr. Fitzgelder’s home as he pretends to be drunk. He is attracted to the beautiful young woman, but she doesn’t know what to make of him, even though he has saved her a couple of times. What is an innocent young woman doing as a seamstress in a brothel, and worse, in the home of a lecherous, evil man like Mr. Fitzgelder? She is a little naive for having lived among the women at the brothel. The characters never get fully fleshed out because the action takes precedence, and it is hard to know who the good guys are and who the bad. There are surprises in store for readers until all comes to a satisfactory conclusion.
Overall, TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING is an entertaining story and one that historical romance readers will enjoy. Coming soon is Ms. Heino’s next book, PARAMOUR BY PRETENSE.
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