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The Crimson Lady
Mary Reed McCall
Avon
ISBN: 0060097701
June 2003
Historical Romance

Fiona Byrne was sold to Viscount Draven at a very young age. She was purchased to be trained as a courtesan, but Draven wanted her for himself. He decided to turn her into the Crimson Lady and play mind games on the people of the stewes who purchased her company. Finally, one day Fiona managed to escape his hold and disguise herself as a respectable woman in the trade business.

Draven was angry for losing his grips on the Crimson Lady, but was determined to get her back. He still managed to control the lives of many people. He managed to turn many other women into prostitutes…including Elizabeth, his niece. Braedan de Cantor was willing to do anything to find Elizabeth, his foster sister, and bring her home where she is safe. Draven, his uncle, also managed to have Braedan’s younger brother, Richard, kept as his protégé. As the newly named Sheriff, Draven also pronounced Braedan as an outlaw, so Braedan must learn to live and travel as an outlaw in order to save his siblings from his uncle’s wickedness.

Braedan chose to find the Crimson Lady and force her to help him find his way through the stewes. Given no choice in the matter, Fiona went with him, and brought him straight to her brother, where they’re adventures begin. For her brother to believe that she willfully came back to the life of a thief, Braedan and Fiona must act as a married couple. This pretense took no effort at all…for either of them.

Thirteenth Century London is a time period that I’m not that familiar with. Throughout the story, I had to convince myself frequently when this was happening in order to accept the character’s behavior. Outside of that, the story was very well written. McCall researched well, and I found the authors note at the end informative. I think it would have been more helpful for me if it was in the front, though. Had I read it first, I may have had a better grasp of the time period. I’m just not used to reading romance novels where the heroine is so submissive and insecure.

THE CRIMSON LADY is a dramatic story, but a fairly light read. It’s almost a Cinderella story. Fiona is treated as though she isn’t worthy of anything good all her life and is meant to serve under someone else’s order for the rest of her life. Then she meets her prince charming, Braedan, who pulls her out of that darkness and lets her sample the life of a princess. After that, the decision is all hers. That’s the best part of all! *G*

I’ll be looking for more Mary Reed McCall books in the future. To take it one step further, I’ll also be looking for more medieval romance novels.

Jennifer Ebmeyer, August 2003

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