The death of her academic father means that Lady Clare can no longer delay marrying – her island home Desire, centre of a perfumed toiletries industry, must have a protector, and she has no interest in the dastardly Nicholas of Seabern, who took her captive for four days and nights in hopes that besmirching her reputation would leave her no option but accept his suit. Even were it not for that Clare would never willingly take him to her bed, for in addition to his manifold other faults, he smells wrong to her.
Lady Clare sends her father’s liege lord, Thurston of Landry, a letter outlining her requirements for a husband – he must be of modest size, able to read, and of even temperament. Raised in his father’s household, but not of it, from the age of eight, Thurston’s bastard oldest son, Gareth, meets one of those requirements and has a thirst for land, a hunger for a place he belongs. On first sighting the beautiful but headstrong mistress of Desire, Gareth discovers a new hunger and thirst, and an additional reason to best his competition for the hand of Lady Clare.
Lynn has written previously about her affection for Quick’s work, and my first experience with her work has me on board. This charming and vibrant historical romance novel combines a mystery, dastardly foes, a spirited heroine who knows her own mind but is able to change it, a strong but understanding hero, and intelligent writing.
I could have done with the refrain of St Hermione’s sacred parts – Lady Clare references her finger, her ear, her brow and almost her maidenhead – but other refrains, particularly the many wedding eve offerings of chicken’s blood-filled vials Lady Clare is offered, are more amusing. I suspect more of Quick’s work will appear on these pages over the next few months, particularly as I know Lynn – who was more amused than I by Saint Hermione – has several actual bought Quick novels, including Desire, awaiting her. - Alex