Toombs takes readers on an interesting journey with a young woman determined to be something other than a servant. But the heroine doesn't mature or learn from her mistakes, and neither protagonist is very sympathetic. You'll wonder if the hero and the heroine can sustain a faithful relationship.

A product of a mixed marriage, 17-year-old Mary Vere serves as a maid. She dreams of someday finding her father, who is said to have been kind and rich.

Rescued from an attempted rape by Jeremy Johnston and Philippe Manigault, she is amazed when Philippe wants to take her with them and make her a lady. In love with Jeremy, she heads west with the two men and becomes Monique Vaudreuil, putting aside her unrequited love for Jeremy and becoming a successful madam. Will she ever manage to find love and contentment? (AMBER QUILL, Dec. '08, 252 pp., $17.00)
Reviewed by: 
Susan Mobley