cover image Sweet Talking Man

Sweet Talking Man

Betina Krahn, Author Bantam $6.5 (384p) ISBN 978-0-553-57619-1

In 1890s Manhattan, young lovers Priscilla and Jeffrey are forbidden to meet by Priscilla's aunt and guardian, Beatrice von Furstenberg, a wealthy suffragette who refuses to let her 16-year-old charge throw her life away. Priscilla persuades Jeffrey to have Beatrice robbed, reasoning that her frosty aunt will warm up to the boy if he connives to rescue her from the crime. Alas, Jeffrey botches the rescue, and Beatrice ends up in a brothel. She's sprung by Jeffrey's uncle, Connor Sullivan Barrow, a handsome charmer and rising politician. Never one to miss an opportunity, Beatrice uses her leverage (she knows that Connor helped his hapless nephew hire the robbers, a fact that would certainly kill his candidacy if it were known) to force Connor into championing women's suffrage during his run for Congress. Connor now has two problems: a cause that's treated with contempt by his backers, and a growing passion for the formidable Beatrice. The story lags in the middle when a business subplot, rather than any real romantic conflict, takes over. But happily, Krahn's warm, energetic style and the charm of her turn-of-the-century Manhattan setting--complete with Tammany Hall politicos, ladies of the evening and a glimpse or two of Susan B. Anthony--carry the book to a lively and satisfying conclusion. (July)