St. Martin's, Sep 2004, 6.99, 352 pp,
In 1813 Anne Paxton Smyth, illegitimate daughter of an earl, pretends to be a widow so that she run Mrs. Anne Smythe's Healing Spa and Bathing Emporium for women. Lady Eleanor Chamberlin arrives desperately pleading with Anne to nurture her war wounded brother Stephen back to health. Anne says no in spite of the vast sum of money offered. Hopeless, Eleanor leaves Stephen on the stoop before departing.
Anne takes Stephen inside to hide him from her female patrons. When he acts ugly she returns in kind refusing to let him wallow in pity. Stephen soon finds a reason to live as Anne heals his body with her love for him that he reciprocates. However, a nasty patron uses a local stalker to harm and perhaps kill Anne if necessary with only Stephen and Anne's assistant trying to keep her safe.
This is an entertaining Regency romance that showcases how love can overcome battle fatigue syndrome, but not easily especially when physical injuries are also present. Anne is a terrific heroine, but the anguish of Stephen presents the tale as a veteran who wants to die until he gets some tender loving.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner