Brown takes another leap into the realm of mysticism in a tale that will please old-school gothic readers. The story follows a Beauty and the Beast theme, with a character so dark that only pure love can cure him. This will tantalize readers, but the story gets sluggish as it moves toward its climax.
Scarred by smallpox, Zoe has fought for years to keep a roof over her head and scrapes by more with wits than earnings. Just when she thinks life might ease up, her once-famous courtesan mother sells her to “the Dark Lord.” Zoe has no choice but to go with the Dark Lord’s agent, Adam Selkirk, Lord Ramsey. Despite the fact that he is an accomplished physician, Adam is also a student of astrology and the acolyte of the Dark Lord. He will use all he knows to avenge his sister’s death, even if it means sacrificing Zoe.
Zoe believes the Dark Lord is eager for a virgin, and resolves to rid herself of her innocence by seducing Adam. Her plan goes awry when their mutual passion explodes. Adam and Zoe face peril and pleasure: Adam must save Zoe’s life and a mysterious man appears and dictates an unforeseen future. A deadly secret, the Ramsey curse, threatens Adam and Zoe before what is written in the stars can come true. (AVON, Apr., 380 pp., $7.99)