Master of Love

Catherine LaRoche
Catherine LaRoche. Pocket Star, $5.99 (346p) ISBN 978-1-476-70943-7
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LaRoche's first romance takes a look at female hardship and flawed gender stereotypes in Victorian England. In 1847, unmarried librarian and rare book dealer Callista Higginbotham, smart and business-savvy, is hired to organize the massive library of Dominick Avery, the Viscount Rexton, a closeted reader and would-be scholar trapped in the guise of an "empty headed pretty boy." Callista, well-born and proper, is thrown off-balance by the handsome ladies' man and relentless flirt. Recently impoverished, Callista suffers additional misfortune when she falls victim to a vindictive landlord and two rude gentlemen who prey on her vulnerable status. Dominick, nicknamed "Master of Love" and "Lord Adonis", acts the part of a shallow rogue, yet he is frustrated by these labels that he hides behind, wishing only to be regarded as a serious philosopher. Objectified and increasingly feeling like a fraud, Dominick struggles with high society's rules and his increased longing for Callista, who is scorned by the upper class for being in "trade." Passions heat up, and like-minded book lovers Callista and Dominick fall in love. Though some of the steamier scenes push the boundaries of good taste, this historical romance provides a glimpse into a male-dominated society where, in later years, the status of women will be challenged. (Dec.)
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