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    Review of MASTER OF DESIRE by Jessica Trapp

    Zebra Books, May 2006

    When she killed her husband, Ariana of Rosebriar put her fate in the hands of her cousin, the Cardinal. Now, though, her cousin demands that she supply him with secrets from the court--who is bedding whom, what perversions are being explored. Unless she complies, he will turn on her--and in Medieval England, a husband-killer is both a civil and religious criminal.

    Gabriel of Whitestone is the King's Hunter--a near-mythical man who seeks the King's enemies. The "Spy of the Night" has become such an enemy. And Gabriel intends to track that spy down. He has to--the King is holding Gabriel's brother under accusation of being that very spy. What Gabriel doesn't expect is that the spy will turn out to be the beautiful Ariana.

    When Gabriel catches Adriana delivering her secrets, he takes her into captivity--although not without a struggle that sets the Cardinal's Cathedral burning. Adriana never stops struggling--although she also finds herself responding to Gabriel in ways that she never responded to any of her three (late) husbands. When Gabriel is injured while rescuing her from brigands who attack during an ill-conceived escape attempt, the two make love, and Adriana is introduced to the sensual joy none of her husbands ever bothered attempting to create--not that any of them could compare with Gabriel. Still, sexual desires and need notwithstanding, Ariana's only hope is to continue spying at her cousin's behest--even if it means losing any hope for love.

    Author Jessica Trapp creates a highly sensual story in MASTER OF DESIRE. To Adriana, Gabriel is a barbarian. To Gabriel, Adriana is another of the noble women who are willing to use him for his body, but refuse to accept him as an equal. Overcoming their prejudices and developing an understanding of each other would be a challenge under the best of circumstances. With Adriana is being blackmailed into continuing to spy, and with Gabriel captured and tortured by the Cardinal, circumstances are far from the best. Can love really prevail against all of these problems?

    Trapp creates an entertaining story with two strong characters battling one another--even as they fall in love. The use of archaic language helps establish the medieval tone, but some readers may find it distracting. I did wish that the resolution to the external problems (Adriana's cousin, the Cardinal) had gotten a bit more attention before we continued on to the emotional climax.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/20/06

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