Signet, Jun 2003, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1772 though she owes a fortune due to her nasty deceased husband's debts to Jasper Hyde, Millicent Wentworth spends more than she can afford to buy an elderly Jamaican slave. Millicent immediately frees Ohenewaa while Jasper goes wild over learning he was outbid because he obsesses over owning the aging former slave.
Needing money badly, Millicent agrees to wed Lyon Pennington, a wealthy invalid wallowing in self-pity. His family pays off her debts and he is moved to her home where many free former slaves earn a wage. As Millicent pushes Lyon around and with the aid of a healer, he begins to recover much of what he lost in the accident that left his first wife dead. As the English couple falls in love, Jasper becomes desperate to get hold of Ohenewaa. He is willing to kill anyone in his way of achieving his goal.
This engaging Georgian romance works on several layers besides the obvious romance between the lead couple. The secondary players provide depth to the high morality of the prime protagonists so that the audience feels the mental anguish and physical pain of Lyon and the need bordering on guilt for Millicent to make retribution for her odious first husband's treatment of people. Though the Jasper subplot adds little to the prime tale except suspense and action, sub-genre readers will strike gold with this deep tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner