Friday, March 14, 2008

The Courtesan's Daughter, by Claudia Dain

If you are looking for a book that has lots of plot twists, a confused daughter, and a very very clever mother, then this is your read. If you are looking for something uncomplicated, then don't bother.

I for one like a challenge, so I read it an evening, when I returned home from the dentist after having a root canal! Glutton for punishment, maybe. Was it worth it? Definitely!!

Lady Caroline is the daughter of Sophia, London's most beautiful and sought after courtesan in her day, now a widowed Countess. Sophia is a member of the ton now, but her past still remains after twenty years, much to her daughter's dismay. They are not allowed into the elite circle of society, and Caro realizes that she will never have a marriage to a respectable man, until her mother purchases one for her! Caro refuses, despite never having met the gentleman; she refuses to be bought. She is often overlooked in the shadow of her mother, and her only option, in her naive mind, is to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a courtesan, as marriage is an unreachable prospect. Simple? Not when you really don't have a clue what all being a courtesan entails! Rather than trying to talk her out of her chosen path, Sophia presents another idea.

Lord Ashdon is a handsome young man (dark hair and blue eyes...hrm.) with an unfortunate habit of gambling and loosing badly. He is in debt, and Sophia has purchased his debt with the condition that he will marry her daughter. Ashdon, while reluctant for his own reasons, which are disclosed later, agrees to the plan. He becomes when angry when Caro refuses him without even meeting him first! Ashdon is infuriated when he learns Caro intends to become a courtesan, instead of his wife, and decides to give her a lesson of sorts. They continuously argue when in each other's company, but under their anger is a mutual desire for each other.

Many arguments, a ball, a pair of pearl earrings, and three pearl necklaces later (all from three different men) the confusion and bouncing back and forth begins. She hates Ashdon, she loves him, she wants him... At times I couldn't keep track of whether or not Caro actually wants to be with Ashdon as his wife, or be a courtesan. Add in her mother scheming, and it makes for an interesting read, but only if you pay attention. Towards the end is a surprising twist about the Countess and her heritage, which I found odd, but intriguing. There are many characters that I suspect will make another appearance in the next one. The book is full of action, which the author writes well, and the passion between Ashdon and Caro is dynamic, if not a bit cold hearted on his side.

I had never heard of this author, and on a shopping trip with friends I picked up her book and decided to give her try. She might not have the descriptive writing of some, but she is forward and to the point. I will be reading the next installment!

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