DANGEROUS SEDUCTION - Zoë Archer
Nemesis Unlimited , Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Cornwall, England, 1886
Simon Addison-Shaw, one of the founders of Nemesis, is pretending to be a mechanic for the important pump equipment at the Wheal Prosperity Mine. A letter sent to Nemesis brought him. The situation at the mine is dire; the copper mine's employees are treated like slaves, with tyrannical managers, and the mine town, Trewyn, has an unsympathetic, bullying constabulary. Plus, the pumps he works on are old and their failure would flood the mine. The owners only suck the profit at the expense of both the mine's safety and workers' welfare. Nemesis brings justice when the law can't… or won't. Shortly, Simon meets a firebrand bal-maiden, one of the women who work with heavy bucking irons (hammers) to pound and break the copper ore into small pieces. Alyce Carr seems to be the only worker willing to make complaint to the managers…who threaten her in return.
Alyce lives with her brother Henry and his pregnant wife Sarah. She finds the new mine employee very handsome, but she doesn't have a trusting nature. She's seen too much. The miners are overworked and their families near starvation with no way out of the situation. Slowly, Alyce is beguiled by Simon into helping make changes in Trewyn. It is a dangerous, border-line legal plan, but one that if successful, will change the miners' lives.
The conditions and situation of the mine ring true and present the type of situation Nemesis likes to redress. The unlikely romance between an upper-class man and a working bal-maiden seems impossible. However, Simon is an unusual upper-class member, one who enlisted rather than buy a commission. He has fought the Zulu at Rorke's Drift and faced danger for Nemesis many times over. Alyce is unlike any high society lady he has ever met: bold, brash, courageous, and intelligent, but she won't leave Trewyn. He fights his attraction to her. There are numerous characters, and they sometimes became a problem for this reader to keep separate, but the author was working with a town, the members in a mine structure, and the members of Nemesis. Otherwise, readers will identify with Alyce and Simon, who defy the limitations of their respective classes in a dire situation, standing strong in the face of intimidation with the hope of improving lives. A well told tale.