Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Perfect 10: THE PLEASURE TRAP by Elizabeth Thornton

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THE PLEASURE TRAP - Elizabeth Thornton
A Perfect 10
Bantam Books
ISBN-13: 978-8-553-5897-3
ISBN-10: 0-553-58957-1
August 2007
Historical Romance

England - 1818

Eve Dearing lost her mother, Antonia, in a suspicious accident when she was twelve. The last words her mother spoke to her have stayed with Eve ever since, and she has vowed to discover the real cause of Antonia's death. Moving in with her aunt after her father's remarriage, Eve has devoted her life to writing novels about brave heroines. Each year, she and her aunt attend a women writers' symposium. The women in Eve's family have all possessed some form of "charisma," or ability to either see or feel things that have happened or will happen. At the symposium, Eve is stunned when she is overwhelmed with feelings of intense hatred by one person there, although she has no idea who it is.

After years of fighting the French, Ash Denison prefers a life of peace and quiet. But a friend has asked him to attend a writer's symposium to try to discover which author has been sending short stories to the newspaper -- stories that have shaken some members of the ton in the revelations not so nicely hinted at in each tale. When Ash reads one of the articles and recognizes the story of the death of his own brother, he is determined to discover the mysterious writer. At the authors' meeting, Ash is immediately drawn to Eve Dearing, a.k.a. the author Mrs. Barrymore, and wonders if she is the secretive "Angelo" who has been sending the stories to the paper?

Eve's first impression of Ash is that he is rude as he stares through his quizzing glass at her. His sardonic behavior upon being introduced does nothing to change her mind about him. Ash, on the other hand, sees through her dowdy appearance to the lovely young woman she is, although she seems a bit snippy towards him. After the affair, the small group of writers gather at Lady Sayer's home, but one night one of them is stabbed. Ash and Eve both think that because the woman who was injured had hinted at being "Angelo," that someone is trying to prevent her from publishing anymore revealing stories. Eve's premonitions and the similar feelings she experienced at the symposium have her determined to discover the truth behind the stabbing and to prevent any further danger. And she comes to the realization that she doesn't mind at all that Ash is by her side during the search. Has the debonair Ash melted Eve's coolness toward him?

Ms. Thornton ends her Trap series (THE MARRIAGE TRAP and THE BACHELOR TRAP) with another spectacular trip to Regency England and yet another excellent mystery which had me puzzled to the very end. The finish is exciting and surprising, and the story line is a real page turner. Eve and Ash are delightfully romantic, witty, and intelligent. The sparks that fly between them and their determination to solve the mysteries of the deaths of their loved ones makes for great reading. The other authors, the waif, Nell, and Eve's aunt are well-rounded secondary characters who make the story real and even more emotional. And I could hardly fail to mention Eve's devoted Labrador Retriever, Dexter, who plays an important role in the book.

Beautifully written and filled with exciting scenes and memorable characters, THE PLEASURE TRAP is a not-to-be-missed summer sizzler.

Jani Brooks

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