Dora Levy Mossanen, Author . Touchstone $14 (290p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4678-1

A sweeping romance with intrigues in both fin de siècle Paris and repressive Persia, Mossanen's engrossing second novel (after Harem ) follows the sentimental education of a young seductress. Though Simone knows from a young age that she's too romantic to follow her courtesan mother, Françoise, into the family business, her grandmother, famed Parisian madam Gabrielle (née Ester Abramowicz), isn't so convinced. A really handsome man, she figures, can seduce Simone, and thus initiate her into the habits of wealthy courtesans. Gabrielle sets upon Cyrus, a handsome Persian jeweler, and Simone is intrigued by the man who supplies only the rarest diamonds to the shah's court ("Was the origin of red diamonds the blood of mistreated diggers, the blazing eyes of dragons guarding illicit mines, or the tears of children forced into hard labor?" she wonders). She succumbs to his charms—but then they fall in love. Simone moves with her new husband to the rugged mountains of Persia to make a quiet life living as Jews in a Muslim country, but her happiness is short-lived. Abrupt shifts between times and locations confuse, but the engaging plot wins out. And while the sex scenes are a bit overcooked (Simone "directed the creamy gaze of her breasts" at a suitor), readers will find themselves gripped by spirited Simone's many adventures. Agent, Loretta Barrett . (July)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 06/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4391-8832-3
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