The Burning of the Rose

Ruth Nichols, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (341p) ISBN 978-0-312-03299-9
Author of four children's fantasy novels, Nichols imbues her first historical romance, set in the 15th century, with traces of the occult. Lutanist and artist's model Claire Tarleton and her adoptive parents Elisabeth and Walter flee Florence to escape the marauding Turks. Having found refuge in Elisabeth's native Normandy, Claire discovers that she possesses ``the other sight.'' Glimpses of ``revenants'' from the grave enable Claire to grasp the importance of an ancient ruin, with its subterranean tunnel being excavated by Richard Linacre, Master of Works. In an effort to save Elisabeth, who had spied for the English when her lover, the Count of St.-Aurele, spurned her hand in marriage, Claire implicates Richard's brother Thomas. The rest of the story delineates the strange relationship between Claire and Richard, veering from sadomasochistic retribution to a true love that defies credibility. Despite Claire's secret embassy to the Medicis, and her exorcism of a torched homesite ravaged by pirates, her character remains numbly vacuous. Nichols creates decorative medieval scenes, but her genteel, richly dressed cast are as flat as tapestry figures. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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