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Another sword-and-sensuality novel from Blake, this one set in New Orleans in the early 1800's at the time of the Louisiana Purchase. The heroine, Elene Larpent, is witty, intelligent, resourceful, and self-reliant, as well as beautiful, with long blond hair like ""shimmering filaments."" Her only annoying flaw: she deludes herself into believing that the hero, Ryan Bayard, privateer, merchant, and diplomat, is enthralled by the magical elements in the perfume that Devota, her mulatto aunt and voodoo priestess, concocted for her on the eve of her wedding to a slightly sinister planter, Durant Gambier. The wedding never occurred, however, interrupted as it was by a slave revolt--and so Elene and Devota fled for their lives, and were rescued by Ryan, who first succumbs to Elene's perfumed body while hiding for three days awaiting the arrival of his pirate ship. Once on board, the women learn that the ship has also picked up an unlikely group of ÉmigrÉs, including Elene's fiancÉ, Gambier, who are all hoping for safe passage to New Orleans. When they reach their destination, the small bond of refugees continue to cling together in the sophisticated, faster-paced and more democratic life there. The city is lovingly evoked, but it's the perfume that is the central element of the story: it keeps Elene and Ryan apart, it is associated with a series of arsenic poisonings among the ÉmigrÉs, it provides the key to the identification of a murderer, and, finally, it is Elene's passport to economic freedom. Sometimes cloying, but--like that perfume--redolent and romantic for fans of the genre.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0759257906
Publisher: Ballantine