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Soft-porn gothic adventure meets Tibetan mysticism--in a vaguely Napoleonic period intrigue. Beautiful young English wench Virginia Eyston has hidden powers, among which is that to enthrall every man she meets with her sexual vibrations (""the mundra lotus is very active in you, as I mentioned to the Venerable Abbot""). Escaping an arranged marriage, Virginia loses her virginity to the Duke of Marlborough, then flees to Russia to become a general's mistress. All is not well in Russia; Czar Paul is a psychopath, and his generals, including Virginia's lover, plot to kill him. She gets involved, but she is terrified of the plot's Jesuit leader, reptilian Father Gruber--and a conflicting amour appears in the form of Russian monk Piotr, whose erotic mantra matches Virginia's own. So Virginia has to leave town fast-for Tibet, followed both by Gruber and Piotr. There the lamas instruct her in the occult, giving her the power to draw on the Universal Fire and keep herself warm when naked in the snow, among other things. After being kidnapped by Gruber and rescued by the monk, it's off to her ancestral estate in Ireland to thwart Grubet's plots, which are so convoluted that no one in the book can fathom what he's about, including his close associates. Only you, dear reader, will know that he is out to change world history and assure a future Nazi victory by assassinating the Duke of Marlborough: ""The Churchill blood contains a seed that could prevent the rising of the greatest nation the world will ever know."" If you can swallow all this you can swallow anything, but the pace is rapid, the scene-shifts are constant, and the historical texture--for those who find history an annoying distraction in historical fiction--is virtually nil.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday