In her debut romance novel, Catherine Kean raises the bar among old English bodice rippers with “Dance of Desire.” The story introduces Lady Rexana Villeaux, an innocent young woman determined to save Rudd, her headstrong young brother, and Fane Linford, a physically and emotionally scarred High Sheriff who is equally determined to prosecute the brother and marry the sister.
The story gets off to an intriguing start with Rexana desperately attempting to trick Fane into believing her to be a desert courtesan skilled at the dance of desire in order to distract him from his law-enforcement duties. When her brother gets imprisoned for treason in the Sheriff’s dungeon, Rexana feels compelled to accept Fane’s offer of marriage in exchange for leniency toward Rudd.
Donning a sexy costume and dancing for the Sheriff isn’t quite what she imaged it to be, and the results surprise her. Initially she is frightened by his barbaric ways and heavily scarred body, but (since this is historical romance) she manages to overcome her fear of him and her resistance to losing her virginity.
Learning to Dance
This book beautifully weaves together an intricate tale of treason, deceit, loyalty, love, and lust. The love scenes are poetic and passionate; Kean doesn’t shy away from giving romance readers what they want. The central and supporting characters are well-developed and suitably sympathetic or in the case of Rexana’s villainous former suitor, Garmonn Darwell, unsympathetic.
In addition to the compelling story, lovely prose, and interesting characters, “Dance of Desire” presents the life and times of London in 1192 to help readers understand the context of the story and what drives the characters forward. Kean, who has degrees in English and History, includes many details about customs, countryside, housekeeping, courtship, clothing, and culinary delicacies of the period to heighten readers’ senses. Interesting plot twists, teasing sexuality, and unexpected character insights will keep romance readers so enthralled that the nearly 450 pages practically turn themselves.
By Catherine Kean
Publisher: Medallion Press, Inc. (2005)