Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fair Game - Diane Farr

Shocking Barter

Clarissa is a young woman of unearthly beauty -- and unfortunate parentage. Ostracized by the family of her deceased nobleman father, the refined innocent is left to the devices of her estranged mother, an infamous harlot known as La Gianetta. Even worse, the unscrupulous -- and hardly maternal -- La Gianetta owes a large debt to a powerful, wealthy womanizer. And she can think of only one possession the demanding gentleman might find of satisfactory value.

Handsome Trevor Whitlatch is quite content that his lovely new acquisition is in every way her mother's daughter -- despite the girl's oddly respectable persona. But a tangle with a hat pin and a most peculiar sojourn in the country are about to teach him that the apple can fall quite far from the tree. And when Clarissa discovers there's more to a man than her teachers at the Bathurst Ladies' Academy let on, everyone's fair game...

What an interesting and original story! Farr picks up a Cit and a courtesan’s daughter and gives them a relationship that felt totally novel to me.

One of the best things in this story is definitely how well she describes her characters and their actions, she makes us understand them and like some of their qualities to the point that we accept their errors too.

Trevor Whitlatch is a Cit, not of noble birth he has made himself a fortune in trade. A few years ago he saved a famous courtesan from a dangerous situation and she repaid him by stealing some jewels he had. But he has finally caught up with her and demands retribution. Unwilling to pay him money the woman decides to offer him a girl, who he understands is to be is mistress.

The problem is that although the girl leaves with him she has no intention of becoming his mistress and soon tries to explain to him that she is in fact a proper young lady- Having been brought up in a school for young ladies at the expense of her unknown father she was turned away when the school was bought by other people and had to go to her mother – the courtesan – for help.

Trevor has some, not to say much, difficulty in believing her story. He thinks she is out to get more money from him and even after she protests her innocence – and runs away only to return to where she was – he is determined that she will be the payment he is entitled to.

They leave for one of his homes in the country and that’s when Clarissa finally starts to convince Trevor that she is not what he believes and does not welcome his protection. The time they spent together was wonderfully written, the characterization of both of them was superbly done and we start to see Trevor’s problems of conscience with what he is asking from Clarissa. He tries to prove to her that what she really wants are nice clothes and jewels and that he can give her that if she becomes his mistress, while Clarissa believes she only wants a respectable life and children to be happy.

In fact they both have to realise, as their feelings develop, that Clarissa can be the woman that Trevor loves and wants to marry and for Clarissa that respectability is not enough. Trevor really only realises that almost in extremis but their journey to love makes for a delightful read. Both the dialogues and the characters are superbly written.

Grade: 4.5/5

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