cover image River of Fire

River of Fire

Mary Jo Putney. Signet Book, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-451-18864-9

On his return from the Napoleonic Wars, Captain Kenneth Wilding rides to Sutterton Hall to claim his inheritance, only to discover that his father has ruined the estate. The only way to salvage it and provide a dowry for his sister is to accept his creditor's bargain: Wilding's debt will be forgiven, if he infiltrates a prominent painter's household and solves a murder. Wilding takes a job as secretary to the painter, but finds his task complicated by his growing attraction to his employer's daughter and by his own secret yearning to paint. The mystery itself is little more than a plot device, until the end of the book, by which time the villain will be obvious to most readers. But in this Regency romance, Putney (Uncommon Vows) offers a strong romantic relationship, good writing and memorable characters, and a portrayal of the London art world filled with jealousy and passion. (Nov.)