Enchanted Mirror

Marianne Willman, Author
Marianne Willman, Author St. Martin's Press $5.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-97080-2
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Roman McKendrick, an impoverished Egyptologist, returns to the glittering ballrooms and intrigue of 19th-century English society after an excavation. He agrees, reluctantly, to reside with the count of Claybourne in hopes of getting his next expedition funded. The newly married countess, Tess, turns out to have been the girl who rejected Roman's suit 10 years ago. Despite the span of years, Roman and Tess (who is dissatisfied with her impotent and indifferent husband) discover that their passion still smoulders. They try to resist the attraction, but the count and his sister, for their own reasons, continually throw them together. Tess eventually follows Roman to Egypt, where he unearths the legendary mirror of the title; in it, she sees their future together as lovers. The melodramatic confrontation at the end and Willman's (The Lost Bride) sometimes awkward descriptions (""The heavy hunting knife he'd thrown protruded from Leland's throat. It had passed clear through, like a knife in cheese"") mar this otherwise satisfying and unusually exotic Regency. (Aug.)
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