cover image Dangerous Passions

Dangerous Passions

Kat Martin. St. Martin's Press, $6.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-312-96247-0

Martin's latest historical has a relatively fresh setting--the Austria of Francis II (I). Sadly everything else seems very, very old. The dialogue is rife with ""twas"", ""twould"" and ""little minx""; shafts are rigid, lobes are nibbled, emotions surge and tears spill. In 1809, Elissa Tauber arrives in Austria from her home in Cornwall posing as the second wife of the late Count von Langen (her dead father), in order to find a traitor hinted at in a letter from her murdered brother. It's hard to imagine Elissa as a Napoleonic Emma Peel given that Colonel Adrian Kingsland, Baron Wolvermont, has to rescue her from a boar, a fall, a villain (part I), a Turk, a villain (part II). In fact, she's the kind of first-class twit that only a sexual predator like Adrian could love. (""I'll keep your secret if you promise you will come to me--whenever, wherever I wish. Not ten minutes later, not later that night, but the moment I send you a summons."") Basically, this is mawkish, distasteful and outdated. (Feb.)