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Silk and Shadows    by Mary Jo Putney order for
Silk and Shadows
by Mary Jo Putney
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2000 (1991)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Over the last two decades Mikahl Khanauri has meticulously planned his life and his fortunes for one thing only - revenge. The time has arrived for him to return to the land of his birth, England, and exact that revenge. No expenditure is too high, no word or action is too distasteful, as long as it guarantees the slow destruction of the man he hates with every ounce of his being - the Honourable Charles Weldon. Nor does Mikahl, also known as Peregrine, have any compunction about using friends or allies to achieve his goal. One of those friends is Lord Ross Carlyle, a fellow adventurer whom the Peregrine had saved from death deep in the heart of the dangerous and shadowy Hindu Kush. Ross can introduce Mikahl, and his vast fortune, to British society, and to Weldon. Better still, Carlyle's cousin, Lady Sara St. James, is betrothed to Weldon. What better way for the Peregrine to initiate the man's destruction than by seducing the woman he's chosen as his bride?

Sara St. James has always led a sheltered and comfortable life and never felt a real desire to marry. She'd almost resigned herself to spinsterhood when Charles asked for her hand. While never feeling any real passion for him, Sara likes and gets along with him, and also his enchanting young daughter, Eliza. Sara decides these are good reasons to accept Weldon's proposal. Then her cousin Ross makes a request of her that proceeds to set her orderly and sedate world into complete disorder - would she help introduce his friend, Prince Mikahl Khanauri, into Society?

Both Sara and Mikahl are taken completely off guard by the feelings they invoke in the other. Mikahl's only purpose in befriending Sara is to use her against Weldon, yet she distracts him at every turn with her beauty, her honesty, her goodness and her trust in others. And under Mikahal's polished foreign veneer, Sara sees glimpses of the dangerous predator that his alternate name 'Peregrine' suggests. She soon discovers that the man she's fallen in love with may well harbour more secrets than truths and that he's had a hidden agenda all along. Despite these chilling realizations, Sara still feels herself seductively drawn to the dark and incendiary passion she feels in his arms. Can she touch his broken soul and free his heart before his thirst for revenge destroys him?

Those who fancy beautifully written and intricately plotted historical romances are urged to pick up a copy of Silk and Shadows. Putney's deft characterizations are simply a crowning touch to a story that take readers from the glittering salons of the wealthiest elite to the degradation and horror of London's seamiest flesh mongers. This story is truly outstanding and it's little wonder Mary Jo Putney is considered one of the most talented historical romance writers around.

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