New Orleans, 1810. Catherine Mayfield’s sleazy escort Marcus convinces her to attend a Quadroon ball with him on a dare, and when she’s left on her own she meets the dashing (but ever so mysterious) Rafael (Rafe) Navarro. Rafe assumes Catherine is a Quadroon and up for grabs and he has his way with her – but when he discovers he’s compromised a young maiden he marries her and whisks her off to Alhambra, the plantation he won from Marcus at cards. They find the plantation sorely neglected, the slaves restless and near revolt and his nut-case sister Solange under the thumb of the even nuttier voodoo spell casting Madame Thibeaut (Madame Ti).
Catherine’s not quite sure what to make of her enigmatic husband, so she keeps herself busy whipping things into shape despite the constant sabotage from Solange and Madame Ti. And if that’s not enough, we get the return of the nasty Marcus still bent on revenge and he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process and he’ll stoop to any method – including inciting the slaves to riot and murder. Can Rafe save his beloved Catherine from Marcus’ evil plots?
I enjoyed this a lot, and despite the lurid title and covers this really is quite tame in the sex department and just right for what I want in a historical romance. I had a few minor storyline quibbles, i.e. why was Rafe so concentrated on Alhambra he forgot about his own family’s plantation, but otherwise the writing was very good and I had a hard time putting this down. Rafe was a near-perfect hero without being overbearing in the alpha-male/rapine department and despite the prerequisite heroine in peril, Catherine was most definitely not TSTL. How refreshing. From the author’s listing over at Fantastic Fiction it appears she wrote quite a few Louisiana based novels in the 1970’s and 80’s and I plan on trying a few more in the very near future.