Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-7434-0334-7
Historical Romance, 2000
Alyssa Porter and her sister are cast out of their homes when their parents died and a callous relative inherited the title. Now Alyssa has to make a living as “Madam Zora”, playing to the Ton’s fascination with Gypsy and occult stereotypes to make a reasonable living. Now if only she could scrap enough to give her sister Calla a Season.
Ian Fortune wants to marry a titled lady (he’s rich enough) and hence show the finger to his arrogant grandfather. But he’s attracted to this Gypsy with whom he finds himself sparring wits with in every ball they attend. Oh, what to do?
I really like the way these two people interact and spark. The author loses the plot soon enough, throwing in some secondary plots that go nowhere, but throughout it all, Alyssa and Ian generate enough warm chemistry to keep me reading. Even when potential big misunderstanding starts brewing, these two end up allies instead of adversaries. The chemistry isn’t of the red hot sexy sort, but a sort generated by two people who truly are comfortable with each other. Not a bad way to start a relationship with, I always say.
But really, the author has to keep those two separated by the most inane of reasons by the second half of the story – Ian’s insistence on thwarting his grandfather by not marrying Alyssa, whom the old man approves of. Alyssa’s “curses” on Ian keep coming true, to both’s amusement and horror, but this joke starts to grate when the curses become more and more inane. Geese and frogs are funny, but boils? No thanks. People start doing stupid things, and I start to feel my eyelids getting heavier and heavier. If I may be so bold, I’d say the story is about 100 pages too long, these unnecessary pages filled with annoyingly silly behavior from everyone. Just get married and get it over with, for goodness sake!
Still, no matter how much buffoonery the author adds into the story – really, Ms Malvey should stop sabotaging her own story this way! – Alyssa and Ian manage to generate so much warm repartee and chemistry that it is so easy to forgive the silliness. I get this feeling that these two really like each other and both genuinely want to be in each other’s company.
To Alyssa and Ian, never a finer couple to grace a page, even if the story stinks at places.