cover image Fleur: Part Two of the Kirov Saga

Fleur: Part Two of the Kirov Saga

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (406pp) ISBN 978-0-312-08782-1

This somewhat arch historical romance, the second book (after Anna ) in the author's projected Kirov trilogy, has as its heroine a Victorian innocent named Fleur, an outspoken 24-year-old of proper English birth who, rescued from ruffians by the visiting Russian Count Kirov, falls madly in love with her savior and his solemn, brooding eyes. He spurns her, and she is devastated. Almost two years later, traveling to St. Petersburg with family, she cannot resist seeing her count one more time. A slave to her heart, she agrees to stay with him, chastely, after his marriage of convenience to the woman Fleur's brother loves. The outbreak of the Crimean War pits Russia against Britain and France, and Fleur's brother, a member of the famous Light Brigade, against Fleur's true love. Although the description of British society in the 1850s is solid enough, the Russian settings are vaguely rendered. Smooth prose doesn't compensate for inconsistent characterization, and the resolution of the complex romantic muddle is hasty and artificial. (Jan.)