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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Matchmaker by Kay Hooper

Genre: Historical Romance

Copyright: 1991

Pages: 212

Rating 4 Crowns

The baby who became Cyrus Fortune was found in a basket on a doorstep in Richmond in 1870. He had an unusual beginning and became an unusual man -- a man who knew things he shouldn't and who had more charm than the average person.

After the death of his adopted father, Cyrus headed to the unsettled West and abroad, but he returned to Richmond in May of 1902. Cyrus had a reputation as an unconventional flirt and for seducing unhappily married women, although the women he was rumored to have been with ended up more happily married after they met him than before.

When he returned to Richmond, he met Julia Drummond, the wife of Richmond's mayor and started making advances. Although Julia's marriage is unhappy, Cyrus has no idea how unhappy. Julia married Adrian Drummond at age 18 after the untimely death of her parents left her alone, impoverished and responsible for her younger sister. She has learned to survive two years of brutal physical, emotional and sexual abuse to protect her sister.

Julia's life is focused around her sister and placating her husband's unstable and irrational moods. Once he discovers the truth about her marriage, Cyrus must try to win her trust and help her break free from her cage of fear.

This story is a grown-up fairy tale, but in the model of the Brothers Grimm, not Disney. It's no accident that Cyrus is given the last name "Fortune." His uncanny ability to know things and understand patterns is an indication of the magic he was born with. There is a dark side to this magic, though. Kay lets the readers meet the twin brother Cyrus never knew he had.

In the 1990s, Kay wrote several follow-up books in this series where Cyrus or Julia, or both, make guest appearances and give the characters a nudge that is key to making the romance spark or overcoming the barriers between the couple acting on their emotions. Although they stay in the background in these subsequent books, these are the first of the long-running recurring characters to tie together the standard boy-meets-girl plotlines in Kay's writing.

This novel is primarily a romance, but the monstrous nature of Adrian Drummond and Cyrus's brother hint at the thrillers and romantic suspense genre that Kay now writes.

You can visit Kay Hooper's author site and buy copies of her books from the independent bookstore she co-owns, Fireside Books and Gifts.

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1 comment:

Teddyree said...

Sounds like an unusual one, the 'grown-up fairy tale' caught my attention. Nice review