“Never again, she had promised herself a dozen times will I be such a fool.” Yeah right, like we all know that’s never going to happen don’t we?
Amber St. Clare never felt she belonged with the poor family who raised her, and when one day a troop of cavaliers ride into her village she’s swept away by Lord Bruce Carlton. Well, actually its more like the other way around – Amber won’t say no and begs Bruce to take her to London and against his better judgment he agrees – although lust for the beauteous Amber might have something to do with it. Bruce makes it perfectly clear he’ll never marry her and when his privateering ships are ready to sail she’s on her own in the big city. Amber accepts Bruce’s terms and they’re off to London as Charles II is crowned and his bawdy court and courtiers are in full swing. As he warned, Bruce soon has to leave and it doesn’t take long for a pregnant Amber to get herself royally swindled (what a fool) out of every farthing Bruce left her and thrown into Newgate prison for debt. Not one to be down and out for long, Amber soon hooks up with a notorious highway man and he breaks them out and the game is on……
Until of course Black Jack Mallard is caught and hanged and finding herself in another pickle she goes for the stage – but she still needs to find man to keep her in the style in which she wants to become accustomed to – and handsome Captain Rex Morgan will fit the bill quite nicely. That is, as soon as she can take him away from his current mistress (no scruples for this heroine). Of course, once Bruce is back Amber manages to screw things up nicely (what a fool) and fresh out of likely prospects young men with money in London, Amber finds herself an older one to protect her from life’s little problems. But then older men don’t live forever and when their family doesn’t like you well, then she’s off on the hunt yet again….
Amber’s story takes her through all walks of Restoration England, from prison to theater to the decadent, conniving court of Charles II (loved Castlemaine and Buckingham’s antics), from the plague (A.W.E.S.O.M.E.) to the Great Fire and from man to man and bed to bed. Amber is most definitely one of fiction’s most flawed heroines and despite the many lessons life dishes out do you think she ever learns from them? Don’t you worry though, as busy as Amber is in the bed chamber and despite the fact that when published in the 40’s this was so scandalous it was banned in Boston, the sex is pretty tame and left to the reader’s imagination (how refreshing). Watching Amber is like watching a train wreck – you can’t take your eyes away for fear of missing what’s going to happen next. As for the ending? Kathleen Winsor dishes up the most delectable bit of Just Desserts at the end – I can’t recall ever seeing better . A grand and glorious romp through the court of Charles II, don’t miss it. 4.5/5 stars.