THE FINER THINGS
Violet Cooper, a homeless orphan from London's East End, manages to evade the workhouse, find a job as a shop girl and attract the attention of a kindly old Yorkshire knight. Suddenly elevated to a title as Lady Godwin, Violet (known as Violette) and her childhood friend, Ralph, are thrust into a world beyond her imagination.
But a title cannot open the closed doors of society to an upstart pretender and when her husband dies, Violette is suspected of murder.
The second son of the earl of Harding, Theodore Blake, is smitten by Violette. Her accent and use of the English language may be atrocious but there is something so appealing and innocent about the 18-year-old Lady Godwin that he cannot help but want to defend her from the rumors.
When it appears that the only way to save Violette from the hangman is to marry her, Blake offers his name, but never his love. It is his love that Violette wants more than anything else, and she will learn to be a lady, face further scandal, divorce, run away to Paris and field another man's proposal before she and Blake reunite.
Readers who relish a sophisticated, stylish read brimming with elegant prose will find this Cinderella story la "My Fair Lady" to their taste, but if you are looking for the raw power and rough sensuality of the classic Brenda Joyce, you'd best reread The Conqueror. SENSUAL (Apr., 420 pp., $5.99)