ORCHIDS AND DIAMONDS
Strong-willed, self-sufficient seamstress and dress designer, Juliette Cladel has just left the convent where she has spent most of her life.
On her way to her sister Denise's apartment she glimpses the handsome Nikolai Karasvin, a Russian nobleman and sculptor. Juliette does not know who he is or that Nikolai is her destiny.
Denise is self-absorbed and temperamental, but in spite of it, a good businesswoman. Her Cladel line of fashions has made her famous. She would like to see Juliette marry well and with children to pass on her legacy.
However, Juliette has other plans and proves her worth with strong desires to learn the trade. Although she starts at the bottom, she quickly moves into the world of the mannequin (live models), to directeress and her own line of clothing.
It is inevitable that Juliette and Nikolai meet even though the two are from different worlds. He is a close relative of the Romanovs and she a fashion designer.
Juliette's concern for self-fulfillment, Nikolai's concern for his family, along with Denise's consumming interest in her legacy, all work together to make this a page-turning love story, filled with three-dimensional characters and carefully researched details (from the lush Parisian designs to the English silk mills and the battlefields of the Great War). This is the first time in a long time I got up in the middle of the night "to read a few more chapters." Brava, Rosalind Laker! (Apr., 304 pp., $19.95)