TURN OF THE DICE by Janet Edmonds


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Edmonds' first US publication differs from most historicals imported from England on two counts: It's set in America and is a bodice-ripper so unrestrained by either decorum or good sense that a fitting subtitle for it might be The True History of a White Girl Slave of Georgian England. How does Abigail Broughton, the sweet, 17-year-old daughter of a country squire, become a bond-slave in the New World, seduced, impregnated, and abandoned? Easy. Her profligate father sells her over a dice game to the sinister but handsome Lord Jasper Cuddleston (a disgruntled suitor whom she rejected in the throes of her London coming-out); then, during her passage to Virginia, the naive miss lands in Lance Haworth's bunk--though when he wins her back from Cuddleston, he makes it clear he hardly intends to make her his wife. Instead, upon learning she's carrying his child, Lance marries her off to his sadistic plantation overseer. Abby has enough spunk to skewer the fellow with a pitchfork during a particularly ugly session of sex, and then to buy her freedom with a necklace she's kept hidden in a trunk. Soon she's set herself up as a seamstress, with the surprising help of Cuddleston, who always seems to materialize in tight spots--when, for instance, angry Williamsburgers nearly find Abigail in bed with the black slave Iago. And, of course, Cuddleston marries her in the end--only a little put off because he isn't the first man to enjoy her favors. Charmless--in fact, distasteful The Williamsburg setting deserves better, even if the flat, dysfunctioning characters here do not.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's