Title: Master of Love
Author: Catherine LaRoche
May Contain Spoilers
I loved the first half of Master of Love. Callista is struggling to support her impoverished family, and she thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she is given a commission to organize Dominick Avery’s library. Overwhelmed by the viscount’s massive collection of books, she dives into her task, determined to use this opportunity to make a name for herself. She is dismayed to learn that she is the topic of unpleasant gossip, and she quickly finds herself fighting off the unwanted advances of young gentlemen. Single and un-chaperoned, there is a great deal of speculation about her reputation. Well born ladies do not work outside of the home. Callista is finding that being a businesswoman is much more difficult that she ever imagined, due to society’s low opinion of her and her need to work. When attraction flares between her and her employer, she knows that she must resist his advances in order to safe guard her reputation.
The first half of the book made me see how difficult it was for Callista to keep her family fed and clothed. Without a male relative or guardian, she had to forge a living for herself without any assistance from anyone. Her father’s book business lost most of its clients after his death, as most people refused to do business with a single woman. Callista was able to secure the commission from Dominick because his uncle, a friend of her father’s, insisted he give her the job. If not for this one act of kindness, she and her family would have been out on the streets. She is at the mercy of her landlord, as well. When he demanded that she pay the rent for the land for an entire year instead of every three months, she is distraught. There is no way to make the payment by the deadline without approaching Dominic for an advance on her earnings. Ugh! I felt so stressed for Callista as she tried to carry the pressure of caring for her family on her shoulders.
While I admired Callista for her determination and her tenacity, she also displayed a shocking lack of common sense several times. Instead of confiding in Dominic about her troubles with the rent payment, she stubbornly refuses to ask for his help. This put her sister’s life, in addition to her own life, in danger. When she uncovers a plot to murder Dominick, she keeps quiet about that, too. She thinks of herself as a fixer, and she’s going to take care of the would-be murderer herself, placing herself in harm’s way – again! I found all of the intrigue and kidnappings and attempted murders a bit much – most people, thankfully, never find themselves in mortal danger once, let alone twice, so the suspense elements didn’t work for me. There was just too much thrown at Callista at once, and each new danger jarred me from the story.
Review copy provided by publisher