The Best Revenge


Dear Stranger

French Quarter

Glass Houses

Guilty Pleasures

Key West

More and More

Sheer Pleasures

True Bliss

Wait for Me

The Wish Club

7B by Stella Cameron
(Mira, $6.99, R) ISBN 1-55166-795-9
7B is the third book in Stella Cameronís Mayfair Square series and this is certainly a case where reading the previous books in the series (More and More and All Smiles) is imperative in order to follow the action. I havenít and I was totally bewildered throughout a good portion of the book.

Itís 1822 and twenty-eight year old spinster Sibyl Smiles yearns for a child of her own. Since there is no man in her life, she decides to find one who will be willing to father her child and then quietly disappear from her life. And she has the perfect candidate. Hunter Lloyd, a barrister who lives upstairs in their boarding house at 7 Mayfair Square, London.

When Sibyl approaches Hunter with her proposition he is appalled. Not because Sibyl is unattractive, but because heís secretly desired her for quite awhile. He is not interested in fathering her child and then slipping out of Sibylís life forever. So, he turns her down.

But, not to worry. Thereís two other handsome bachelors residing at 7 Mayfair Square. Latimer More and Adam Chillworth. Perhaps one of them will be willing to father a child with Sibyl. Although that thought is not unpleasant, if Sibyl were totally truthful, she would have to admit that Hunter is the only man she wants to father of her child.

Meanwhile, thereís a secondary plot concerning a trial that had obviously taken place in an earlier book. Hunter had successfully defended a friend of the King and now someone involved in the trial is out to harm Hunter and anyone close to Sibyl.

Although Hunter thinks itís wise to keep his distance while Sibyl pursues the notion of having a child, heís forced into her company in order to protect her. Not only from the villains out to harm her, but from the other bachelors in the boarding house who are more than willing to help her achieve her goal of motherhood.

Both Sibyl and Hunter are agreeable characters -- although Sibyl seems incredibly naive for a woman on her own, particularly when she insists on walking down deserted alleyways in the dark. I was also troubled by a scene when Hunterís anger made him behave in an abhorrent way that I found totally out of character.

My overriding impression of this book is confusion. The muddled mystery of who wanted to harm Hunter and Sibyl and why left me totally in the dark. I think the genesis of the mystery can be found in earlier books, but things should have been made a bit clearer for those of us jumping in at the third installment.

In addition, I had some difficulty with the style of writing. The narrative seemed disjointed and I found myself re-reading passages repeatedly to understand exactly what was meant. I also had trouble connecting with the cadence of the charactersí speech. Maybe I wasnít in the proper reading mood? I answered that question myself by immediately starting another romance by different author and not coming up for air until 200 pages later. It definitely was not me, I was in a fine mood for reading.

Thereís also a ghost who inhabits the boarding house named Sir Setimus Spivey who is obviously there for a bit of comic relief, but who has an annoying habit of popping up just when things finally start to get rolling, throwing me totally out of the story. I did not find him the least bit amusing.

Overall, I found 7B a perplexing read that I have difficulty recommending. Perhaps readers who have enjoyed the previous books in the series will get more enjoyment from this book than I.

--Karen Lynch

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