Bradley and Donovan create a titillating tale of two women, each searching for independence and sexual identity. The authors demonstrate how a woman 200 years ago can empower a modern-day professional. The heightened sexuality is icing on the cake of this thought-provoking novel. The growth of both women is well written and each of their powerful, scandalous, outrageous journeys comes to a satisfying conclusion.

When prim museum curator Piper Chase-Pierpont discovers the secret memoirs of a 19th-century courtesan known as the Blackbird, she is curious about the woman Americans know as abolitionist Ophelia Harrington. Little is known about her life in England until now. Piper puzzles over how to include this new information in an exhibit and uncovers a new side of herself. She uses Ophelia’s lessons to catch the man of her dreams, fellow academic Mick Malloy. Piper changes her hair and wardrobe, but more importantly, she develops confidence in herself as a woman. She begins to understand why Ophelia fought for every man and woman’s freedom, how the courtesan was caught in a sadist’s trap and how she was embroiled in a scandalous trial. (ST. MARTIN’S, Jun., 384 pp., $7.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin