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Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Hero: Marshal Zachary Xavier Cooper
Heroine: Emmanuelle de Beauvais
Date of Publication: June 2002
Started On: August 1, 2010
Finished On: August 2, 2010
Emmanuelle, the widow of Philippe de Beauvais who died no longer than 3 months ago is devastated when her friend and mentor Henri Santerre is murdered right in front of her with a crossbow bolt tipped with silver alloy, the kind that Emmanuelle’s dead husband Philippe had used for recreational hunting. Emmanuelle is more than shocked by the events that take place that night and she can’t help but think that the bolt had actually been meant for her.
The Yankee Marshal Zachary X. Cooper embodies everything that Emmanuelle has come to detest in the confederates war that was ongoing. When Zachary hears about the unusual murder that took place in a cemetery and that also with the most unusual of weapons, he is more than intrigued to find out who is responsible for the murder. The beautifully exotic French woman who is the only witness to the crime and possibly looking as the best viable suspect for the murder stirs something deep within the soldier’s soul right from the very beginning.
Zachary is determined to uncover the secrets that shrouds this woman he is tempted beyond reason to make his, even when the fact that he is a Yankee soldier clearly irks the woman he wants. Emmanuelle is not your typical romance novel heroine. A woman who has a deep passion for practicing medicine during a time when all doors leading to the profession were closed off for her gender, Emmanuelle continues to serve at the Hospital de Santerre, a hospital that had been opened up by the joint efforts of her father, her husband and Henri Santerre, who had all been doctors. Though heavily mortgaged Emmanuelle refuses to give up and close down the hospital, even after the death of Henri which meant that the only doctor certified to treat patients at the hospital was Dr. Charles Yardley who himself meets an untimely demise later on.
One by one, the people who play vital roles in Emmanuelle’s life are killed off and Emmanuelle herself barely escapes death at the hands of a hired Irishman before being rescued. Though Emmanuelle refuses to give into the fear that threatens to consume her of what would happen to her son Dominic if she were to be killed, Emmanuelle refuses to truthfully tell Zachary anything about her life which might provide vital clues in solving the senseless murders that seemed to be taking place.
Although Emmanuelle would like nothing better than to bury her head in the sand and refuse to face the truth about the intensity of her feelings towards the Yankee soldier who had somehow managed to find a niche for himself in her life, it is with explosive passion that these two finally come together. Zachary is determined to uncover the truth hidden in the layers of half truths that is fed to him one way or the other, and he is more than driven to save the woman he loves more than anything else in this life from the death that awaits her with certainty if the killer is not caught.
This is a splendid story set in the steamy New Orleans, a place where explosive passion, murder and half truths take the center stage. As the truth is uncovered, one painful inch at a time, I continually found myself surprised and at times ready to take Emmanuelle by the shoulders and give her a good shake so that she would tell the complete truth, just the one time. Touching highly provocative subjects, this book is not just a romance, but an intrinsically woven tale of family drama, murder and the destructive power of lies. Highly recommended for those who love a story that would intrigue you and make you ponder about what you have read long after the book is over.
I especially loved the unusual epilogue in the book, told in the viewpoint of a grandchild of Zachary and Emmanuelle, long after they are dead to a great granddaughter of theirs named Emmanuelle. All the characters in this book would definitely weave their magic on the reader that would continue to linger long afterwards. And this is one of those romances where the hero is younger than the heroine; Zachary being five years younger than Emmanuelle.