Friday, October 05, 2007

The Courtesan's Daughter - Claudia Dain



The Courtesan’s Daughter
Claudia Dain
Berkley

Historical Romance

Lady Caroline appears to have everything a young woman of her time could want. The daughter of an Earl, she is titled, wealthy, and quite beautiful. Her problem, however, is quite fundamental: she is, for all practical purposes unmarriageable. The reason for her plight is her mother’s past. Her mother, Lady Sophie, was once a courtesan before marrying the Earl and entering Society. Finding a husband from a good family will be nearly impossible. Lady Sophie did not rise to her present position in life without a cunning mind, however, and she presently hits upon a plan. She will simply purchase her beloved daughter a husband.

The proposed husband is one Lord Ashdon, a man whose gambling debts have left him, if not precisely amenable, then at least susceptible to such a humiliating arrangement. When Caroline discovers the plot, she is dismayed. She refuses to have a husband purchased for her, and decides that she will become a courtesan; completely unaware of the harsh realities of the path she’s chosen. Upon meeting Lord Ashdon, however, Lady Caroline is uncomfortably aware that she may have made a terrible mistake. And, with the rules of the game changed, Lord Ashdon declares that he will take Lady Caroline, but as his mistress.

While the cast is large, each character plays a specific role in this involving novel. Lady Sophie is quite intelligent and very good at moving people around like game pieces. That she does so to secure a good and solid future for her daughter is what makes her sympathetic. Caroline is quite realistic; young and idealistic, she makes rash decisions without thinking them through, then must deal with the consequences. Ashdon’s reaction to everything seems quite reasonable, really. The fun is watching the characters move through what seems, in hindsight, to be a very complicated set of dance steps. This delightful novel, awash in historical detail, is the first in a proposed series, and I’ll be glad to see more from this talented author.

Rating: 8
October 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21720-7 (trade paperback)

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