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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Review of Miss Foster's Folly by Alice Gaines

Manhattan, July 2010

Carole Ann Moleti is baking in the Big Apple, where the temperature today reached 101ºF in Central Park. The thermostat in her car read 105ºF. Rumor has it that it could be as high as 120º on a subway platform, but she was not about to go down there to check it out.

Sure it gets hotter in places like Las Vegas and Death Valley, but its dry heat—right? Here the humidity closes in around you like a shroud, making it hard to breath, to think, to do much of anything.

Carole's suggestions to beat the heat: Sit in a pool, or in your bathtub, or in your air conditioned apartment and read Alice Gaines' latest novel, Miss Foster's Folly, a recent release from Carina Press.

Warning, it's as hot as New York City on July 6 2010, but Alice's silky smooth prose will soothe the burn.

Manhattan, 1886
Juliet Foster has just become the wealthiest spinster in town. Her domineering and thoroughly unpleasant father has died and left her millions. She's free to be her own woman and seek a life of adventure.

David Winslow, Marquess of Derrington, is in search of a wife who can break the Winslow Curse. Every second-generation heir inherits a restless, defiant nature that can only be tamed by a mate as independent and rebellious as himself.

Miss Juliet Foster is perfect and eager for seduction. But when he wants more than a few nights of passion, Juliet runs like the devil's on her heels. Can the marquess convince her that marriage isn't a trap, but the greatest freedom of all?

And so begins Miss Foster's Folly: a rollicking trip across the Atlantic through the English countryside. Along the way, the reader meets a gaggle of quirky noblemen and women, including David's grandmother, Lady Harriet Winslow, the Dowager Marchioness of Derrington who redefines the meaning of a little old lady.

"I understand perfectly well. I was the same as you. I resisted with all my might until I finally didn’t want to fight any longer,” Lady Derrington said. “You wouldn’t believe how my Hugh finally convinced me.”

“I don’t think I want to know.”

“Let’s just say that feathers can be instruments of torture, and silk ties leave no marks.” Lady Derrington circled her wrist with the fingers of her other hand. “After that, we were inseparable for the rest of our lives.”

Juliet did her best to keep her expression bland, but from the smile of victory in the other woman’s eyes, she hadn’t managed completely. Feathers and silk bonds, oh dear.

And Juliet herself is no romantic, determined to get her way and spoil the Marquis' fun. Here's one of the PG-13 scenes, when Juliet decides to show off her knowledge of orchids while on a tour of a conservatory:

“You see, orchids like this one grow on trees. People think they’re parasites, but they actually only use the branches for support.

Derrington relaxed a bit, his shoulders lowering slowly to their normal position.

“Instead of fibrous roots, like most plants have, orchids have thick, fleshy ones,” she went on. “With tips that extend past their absorbent coating.”

Millie pried her way through the group until she’d reached Juliet’s side. “I don’t think our hosts really want a lecture in botany.”

“I do,” Blandings said. This time, Derrington glared at him.

"What?” Blandings sputtered. “What did I say?”

She pointed toward the beginning of a root appearing from the base of the plant in Derrington’s hand. “This little protuberance, for example.”

Anger flashed in Derrington’s eyes as he dared her with his expression to continue. Fine. She liked dares.

“It’s small now,” she said. “But soon, it’ll elongate and thicken.”

Lady Mitford laughed in earnest this time. Lord Mitford covered his mouth and coughed, but he couldn’t cover his mirth completely.

Juliet glanced toward the bench. “Oh, look. This plant’s root has grown so far it’s plunged deep into its neighbor’s pot.”

Millie stood close enough to touch her without the others seeing, and she reached out and pinched Juliet in the ribs. Hard.

Juliet smiled back at her for a moment and then turned to Derrington. She took the plant from his hand and held it up nearly under his nose. “But the most remarkable thing about this flower is this structure.” She trailed a fingertip along the blossom’s column in a slow caress. “It holds the reproductive organs, both male and female.”

For just a moment, she could have sworn she could hear Derrington’s teeth grinding. “And behind this cap on the head. Ah, yes, here.” She ran her fingernail along the underside of the column up to the anther cap. When she removed it, the pollinia came away stuck to her skin. “See, two little nubbins of pollen.”

Derrington’s face turned three shades of red, but he kept his features even. He took the plant back and held it out toward Lady Mitford. “Would you hold this, please?”

She took it from him. “Certainly.”

He grasped Juliet’s elbow, using as much or more force as he had the night of the ball. “Excuse us for a moment.”

Miss Foster's Folly is totally Victorian, and a hilarious, sexy read that will have you laughing your butt off and reaching for your marquis or marchioness.