WHISPERING by Jane Aiken Hodge


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The prolific Hodge (Escapade, 1993, etc.) again sets a bright and personable romance against a dark bit of historical mayhem with secrets and spying all around. Napoleon is still galloping around Europe, but Oporto, Portugal, though recently occupied by the French, is now safely in British hands. (The Duke of Wellington supplies a cameo.) Caterina Gomez is only too eager to leave the grim English convent where she had been sent by her even grimmer father and return to Portugal under the escort of her cousin, pleasant Jeremy Craddock. Caterina is also most eager to include her close friend Harriet Brown (of mysteriously humble circumstances) on the trip. In Oporto, the results of a French-led massacre of civilians are still felt, but the English colony is not held in much regard. While Jeremy, who's prone to fainting spells, arranges treatment sessions with a young, oddly evasive American healer, Rachel Emerson, who lives with her brother (or is he?), Caterina and Harriet settle into the old Gomez house with a chilly father and a dreadful priest/confessor. They are visited there by Frank Ware, a forthright sort in bondage to his overbearing mother, leader of the English social clique. Soon there are overtures from those once dear to Caterina, including an ancient grandmother and an old but still-active flame: passionate Luiz, now working for a nationalist party. And soon it becomes obvious that almost everyone has secrets to spill -- and trade off. Love will blossom, at least for Harriet. As for Caterina...perhaps. A brief historical rundown on Portugal's predicament would have been helpful, but it all sorts out, and the bad, whispering spies are run to ground. Another appealing, tough-minded heroine from Hodge.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0312301073
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's