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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Review: Pretend I'm Yours

By guest reviewer Nancy Lindley-Gauthier.

Pretend I'm Yours
by Phyllis Campbell

Lies brought Mercedes Maxwell a breath away from her heart's true desire. Could they keep her from happiness? On the precipice of the American Revolution, Englishwoman Mercedes Maxwell is forced by her identical twin's medical circumstances to America. Mercedes will not rest until her brother-in-law accepts his financial responsibility-even if it means impersonating her own sister. William Braxton's selfish wife could end his life with one word regarding his actions against Mother England. But William and Mercedes discover each may have been mistaken about the other. William is discovering this Katherine is nothing like his bride, and instead everything he'd hoped for.
Pretend I am Yours by Phyllis Campbell is a wonderful historical intrigue which winds its way through a complex set of circumstances and emotions. The tale evades an easy label, but certainly includes a compelling romance. Deception is also a large part of this wonderful saga. All things are not as they seem in this tale, as the reader suspects at once.

An unexpected and clever twist sets wheels in motion the main character - as well as the reader - could never have foreseen. Lady Mercedes Maxwell, a widow, steps into her twin sister's life, determined to help her by whatever means necessary. If that means an arduous journey to the colonies while pretending to be Katherine and committing acts of theft, so be it. Lady Maxwell's suspicions are aroused almost from the start, but soon, those very suspicions turn on her, as she doubts, again and again, what truth to believe. As her doubts grow, so does her frustration- and she is not the only one!

Her motivation, all too clear at the start, undergoes a change. It is a change easy to believe, once she comes to know the dashing Mr. William Braxton, Katherine's husband. However, she has her own goals to pursue, regardless of this dreadfully handsome but plainly not-what-he seems man.

Still, questions about trust and truth weave a clever web that the reader feels she can almost see through. Loyalty is called into question, and with it, all too soon, patriotism. Further complications soon arise, offering us a fresh perspective on the personal impact of the revolution.

The settings in this tale are delightful. Descriptions in no way intrude, but provide just enough background for the story to have a genuine, authentic feel. The horses and carriages, the minor details of passage by boat, even the look inside the hospital for the insane all are thorough and credible. From household extravagances like the polished cherry-wood doors, hand-painted silk screens and the plush velvet of gowns, precise descriptions offer a wonderful vision of the time and place.

The exact truth of the situation is revealed only slowly. There are many reminders of this other time, almost another world - where women were always subservient to the men of the family, and yet, were not powerless.

This is a delightful historical novel and romance. Pretend I am Yours by Phyllis Campbell is sure to please a wide range of readers, its complexity, characters, and daring make for a stunning read.