cover image Thunder and Roses

Thunder and Roses

Mary Jo Putney. Topaz, $6.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-451-40367-4

In the first novel in Penguin USA's new romance line, Putney ( Silk and Secrets ) offers fleshed-out characters but an overload of extraneous historical detail and a lame plot. Clare, a pious Methodist schoolteacher in a small Welsh village in 1814, agrees to live for three months with a wealthy man named Nicholas known as the ``Demon Earl.'' Nicholas is the son of a nobleman and his gypsy wife who grew up spending some months of each year on the road with caravans and the rest of the year residing in his grandfather's sumptuous mansion. A part of the bargain is that he be allowed to kiss her once a day. Clare hopes that if she carries out her end of the deal Nicholas will see that the dangerous mine in town--in which several men have already lost their lives--is brought up to modern standards. There are also several subplots involving a friend of Nicholas's who has turned vengeful because of an imagined wrong done to him, and the rumor that Nicholas's grandfather died of a heart attack after barging in on his grandson in bed with the grandfather's second wife. (May)