cover image Sweet Vengeance

Sweet Vengeance

Kat Martin. St. Martin's Press, $6.5 (372pp) ISBN 978-0-312-95095-8

Martin's ( Gypsy Lord ) steamy historical romance has the appeal of a ride at Disney World: though unbelievable, it is sometimes exhilarating. In 1807 Jocelyn Asbury affects a phony Cockney accent as a member of a London street gang. Her scholar father has torched their home and perished in the fire, and she blames this misfortune on Rayne Garrick, Viscount Stoneleigh. She disguises herself as a man and attempts to murder him, but rather than sending her to prison, he takes the beautiful young woman into his home to find out what she has against him. This leads to a deal whereby she will be his mistress in return for a fine house in the city and beautiful clothing. Garrick begins initiating his virginal concubine, but soon another attempt is made on his life. The accused Asbury chooses to board a prison ship bound for Jamaica rather than stand trial, and Garrick buys a coffee plantation there for her to work on. While historical background is generally well researched here, many details are unrealistic (e.g., the workers on Garrick's plantation all adore him, and when Garrick withdraws from an attack on Asbury she is grateful to him for not raping her) and the surprise ending is not credible. Doubleday Book Club alternate. (Sept.)