VENTURE TO LOVE by Jocelyn Stirling


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Following Promises to Keep (1986) comes a second novel by this pseudonymous, ""critically acclaimed California nonfiction writer,"" this time focusing on the industrial revolution in early 19th-century England and the political ferment of Napoleonic France, into which setting romance springs lightly. Argent Wood, lovely, orphaned, and penniless, at 20, steps out of the black-bodied, red-wheeled coach from rural Southend-on-Sea, and into the pressing melee that is London, 1806. Determined to make her fortune, Argent is shocked at her first city scene: a well-dressed rouÉ trampling an innocent bystander when the latter has the effrontry to block passage on the street. Argent rashes to the victim's aid, where she is joined by the perpetrator's handsome and equally well-dressed companion--a man she dismisses as a dandy, but who soon emerges as the tale's romantic hero, Rawson Carlyon. Reluctantly accepting Rawson's eagerly proffered help, Argent becomes a lady's companion, moves on to a clerkship, and winds up, upon receiving a small, unexpected inheritance, partowner in a cotton mill (where she does not oppress the workers). Rawson, meanwhile, metamorphoses as a patriotic spy who travels to France and operates under the name Roger Labarre, joining the ""Screech Owls"" in their effort to unseat the hated Napoleon. As Rawson reencounters Jacquetta, a seductive Frenchwoman he had impregnated and abandoned years back, Argent fends off her psychotic business partner, the Dickensian-named Silas Bootherstone. Though she had feared Rawson lost, he returns to claim her just as she's making a bold success of her mill. Passable but a little too simplistic (and loosely satiric) in style to evoke the wished-for storm of passion attendant upon such tales.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1987
Publisher: Doubleday