STOLEN CHARMS – Adele Ashworth
England and France, 1847
In 1999 when I was “young,” I reviewed STOLEN CHARMS for Romance Communications, an online site no longer in business. The format was a little different from RRT's but I would like to use my original review for this reprint edition. I used a pen name then; otherwise it's word for word.
Love is all in this enthralling tale of a man and a woman destined to be together. From the opening scene, when a young maiden receives her first real kiss until the exquisitely tender consummation, Natalie and Jonathan play out a dance of desire denied by one and held in abeyance by the other. The sexual tension is high, but relieved now and then with teasing good humor.
Five years before the main action takes place, a very young Natalie had a crush on Jonathan, an earl's second son. She was embarrassed by the arousal of physical desires and the subsequent revelation of her feelings during a kiss stolen in a garden. The embarrassment turned to dislike and avoidance until she had need of his services. Now Natalie wants Jonathan to escort her to France to meet the legendary Black Knight, a roguish thief whose daring exploits harm only those guilty of greater crimes.
Besides all the inner conflicts two spirited, complicated and intelligent characters generate and overcome, the plot gives us adventure in the form of French political intrigue and the theft of priceless emeralds. The plot is a well-crafted one, but these elements are secondary for this reader who normally skims quickly over love scenes. The descriptions of Jonathan's lovemaking, both physical and verbal, are the most beautiful I have ever read, and I read and savored every word.
There is one other character of note in the book, a fascinating French beauty, Madeleine DuMais, who deserves a story of her own.
I highly recommend STOLEN CHARMS to anyone who enjoys a truly character driven love story with the most marvelous hero ever to dwell in any woman's fantasy.
Lily Martin (AKA Jane Bowers)