Caroline Browne leads a double life as the quiet, refined daughter of a London bookseller and the satirical cartoonist/columnist known as Charles Copperville. Disguised as a young man she has been able to watch the ton at their glittering balls and parties and find the perfect witty barbs to fling.
But when Caroline chooses the Russian emissary, His Highness Nicholas Sverayov, she may have found the one man who is unwilling to be her prey.
On a mission for his government, Nicholas is determined to unmask the elusive lampoonist and, much to his delight, uncovers Caroline (dressed as a man) and decides to play a game of cat and mouse with the intriguing young lady.
Without warning, they are caught in a net of treachery, conspiracy and passion. Though married to a woman he no longer loves, Nicholas is bound by devotion to his daughter and hires Caroline to act as her companion, sweeping her from Regency London to fascinating St. Petersburg on the brink of war.
Complex and enigmatic with its underlying dark sensuality and emotional intensity, this novel mesmerizes and holds a reader's attention from first page to last. Brenda Joyce is a grand mistress at building tension to a crescendo as she constructs a fascinating plot peopled with intriguing characters to intensify the whole reading experience. SPLENDOR is splendid and gives those seeking a vivid and more powerful romance with an undercurrent of sensuality just what they desire. SENSUAL (Dec., 475 pp., $5.99)