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Friday, February 19, 2010

Queen of Hearts by Phyllis Campbell

Queen of Hearts by Phyllis Campbell
Publisher: BookStrand
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (217 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Queen Anne’s Lace

Dr. Cecilia Ashby is forced to disguise herself as a man in order to practice medicine in a small Southern town after the Civil War. When she stumbles across an injured gambler in an alley one night, will her ruse get the better of them both, especially when she finds herself attracted to him?

Gambler James Lawrence has played his last hand and finally has enough cash to buy back his family's plantation that the carpetbaggers took from him until he's blindsided, robbed, and left for dead. James finds his stolen earnings in the hands of Cecilia's brother, the young thief who now resides on his plantation.

James and Cecilia both want the plantation, but do they want a long lasting love even more? Battling deceit, betrayal, and disguises, the two must confront their biggest challenge yet.

For fans of Shakespeare and The Old South stories complete with plantations and sugar cane fields, Queen of Hearts has it all. I originally wanted to read Ms. Campbell’s novel because the blurb reminded me of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and CBS’s Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Ms. Campbell takes some already explored plotlines and then puts her own unique spin on the novel.

The story first introduces us to tall and dangerously handsome James Laurence. He’s a scoundrel and card shark who’s never met a woman that didn’t fall immediately into his expert hands. He returns to his home in Louisiana, wins the jackpot, and leaves the bar planning to complete a goal he set himself ten years ago, to buy back his family’s home, Belle Grove. Victory in sight, James leaves the saloon only to be stabbed and robbed in the alley. Lady Luck is definitely not on James’s side.

Then enters our heroine. The spunky and resourceful Cecilia Ashby. Yet, more importantly, Cecilia is a doctor. Ever since she was a child, she wanted to practice medicine but the town would not accept a woman doctor. So Cecilia Ashby became Doc Lee Copeland complete with a mustache and beard. And she never regretted the deception until handsome James Laurence falls under her care, tempting her to shed the disguise and know him as only a woman can.

Ms. Campbell draws the reader in with sympathetic characters and beautiful Louisiana scenery. The thing I loved most about the heroine is that she’s refusing to allow a male society keep her from doing what she loves. This story begins strong and keeps the reader until the end, delivering a satisfying conclusion. Don’t miss out on this wonderful story. A+++ job, Ms. Campbell.