Sweet Violet by Corinne Everett
(Zebra Ballad, $5.99, R) 0-8217-7146-9
Sweet Violet is the third book in Corinne Everettís Daughters of Liberty trilogy. I normally hate reading the last book in a trilogy before reading the first two, but Violet and Gabrielís adventures are compelling. The tense opening chapter is gripping right from the beginning.

Gabriel Isling, the seventeen-year-old Duke of Belmont, rushes home from Oxford to find his beloved older sister has been in labor for almost two days. She insists that neither the doctor nor her husband should be called. Gabriel has been away at school for most of the past two years. He does not care for his sisterís husband and has never understood why she married Wingate. What he discovers appalls and enrages him. His sister begs him to not get revenge on Wingate, but to help others like her. This tragedy starts Gabriel on a lifestyle quite unusual for an English Duke in the late 1700ís.

Violet Pearson decides to use her parentsí visit to Boston to see her older twin brothersí graduation from Harvard as a way to follow her secret plan to visit England. She persuades them to leave her in charge of the farm and the family business. With her Aunt Rose nearby they allow her to stay. After they leave, Violet dresses in some old clothes of her brothersí and heads for the harbor. She plans to stowaway on one of her uncleís ships, knowing she will be safe on any of them.

Violet meets Gabriel when he rescues her in a bar fight. He quickly realizes that she is female. Since his sisterís death ten years earlier, Gabriel has spent a lot of time rescuing women in unfortunate circumstances. His first thought is that Violet is in some kind of trouble.

Gabriel has come to America to visit the Pearson farms, renowned on both sides of the ocean for good hardy botanical specimens. He is very attracted to Violet and intends to teach her a lesson about how dangerous her masquerades are. He knows that his unusual lifestyle should keep him from acting on the attraction. He doesnít quite succeed.

On the other side of the ocean, the rescued women who are part of his household are having unusual trouble. Some of them are being followed, two are accosted and given a cryptic message, and a rock with a note is thrown through a window. Penelope, the woman left in charge, decides that all twelve of them must leave for America without delay.

Violet could have come across as simply a brat; thankfully, she does not. While naive about her chances of getting to England without trouble, she does know a great deal about the family business and can help as well as her brothers. Her particular strength, however, comes when terrible rumors are attached to Gabriel and ďhis women.Ē She is initially very shocked and hurt, but quickly realizes that the man she has come to know could not be the type of man the rumors say.

Gabriel has spent the last ten years of his life trying to fulfill the promise he made to his sister. The result has been a number of rescued women, but no real life for himself. He has a hard time figuring out how to change the situation so that he can live and still not betray his sister. With the help of Penelope and Violet, he finally sees a way.

Violetís parents and her aunt and uncle all appear. Each coupleís lives are told in the previous books. There are enough details about these lives to make me want to read the books, but I had no trouble following this book without reading the first two.

The colonial America setting was a refreshing change. There are not a lot of romances set in this time period and with thirteen colonies, there should be plenty of good material.

Sweet Violet has adventure, danger, a touching romance, a tortured hero, and a heroine just coming of age. It was indeed enjoyable.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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