Swear By The Moon
Swear By The Moon is an old-fashioned romance. The villains are deep dyed and black hearted. The hero is handsome as sin, rakish as can be, and really good in bed. The heroine is beautiful as a goddess, feisty to the max, and about 30 percent TSTL yet 70 percent endearing. I’ve read some romances like this one that were so bad they made the walls rattle, but Swear By The Moon was smooth, professional and downright fun to read.
When Thea Garrett was only 17, she eloped with Lord Randall. Thea’s family had forbidden the marriage, saying that he was only a gamester after her large fortune, but she knew better. When their curricle lost a wheel on the way to Gretna Green, they stopped at an inn where Randall forced himself on Thea. Her brother Tom caught up with them and in a duel, Randall and Tom killed each other.
Ten years later, Thea is living in London with her cousin Modesty Bradford. The family had closed ranks around Thea and though she still suffers from pangs of guilt, they do not blame her for Tom’s death. Thea is accepted in Society but her reputation as a fallen woman keeps her separated from the highest sticklers of propriety. She has a large fortune and is really quite happy – her only problem being her half sister Edwina and her husband, Mr. Hirst, who are a drain on Thea’s fortune. The plot is set in motion when Thea goes to meet Hirst to give him money to pay off some of his gambling debts
Patrick Blackburne is the son of an Englishman who moved to Natchez and built a large and prosperous plantation. Patrick is in London to visit his mother who has remarried; she is being blackmailed by an unknown person who has some of her letters from years ago. Patrick is going to a house where he has traced the source of the blackmailing letters.
In the house, Hirst attempts to attack Thea, who hits him on the head and runs – into Patrick. It seems that Patrick had traced the source of the letters to the house where Hirst was. When Patrick goes back, Hirst is dead, but not because of Thea’s blow to the head. Who killed him? And was he the source of the blackmailing letters? And can Patrick persuade the Notorious Miss Garrett that not all handsome, rakish gentlemen are total rotters?
Swear By The Moon is an old fashioned romance that I had a ball reading. Yes, everyone is bigger than life; Patrick is in constant danger of popping his trouser buttons, and Thea is all flashing eyes and heaving bosom in the best romance heroine tradition. Shirlee Busbee has been writing since 1977, and is one of the grand dames of the historical romance. If I had to guess, I would guess she is still enjoying herself. I never got that just-going-through-the-motions feeling that I have gotten with some recent novels I have read by long established authors. Ms Busbee has a knack for making her characters real, and really likable. I want to especially mention Modesty Branford, Thea’s companion. Modesty is a spinster, but no poor relation. She is a beautiful older woman who is happy in her independence, loves Society functions, has reams of good, common sense and is a firm friend and mentor to Thea. She’s quite an endearing character.
I know that there is an audience out there for the old-fashioned historical romance, and if this type of book is your preference you will love Swear By The Moon, but even if you are a fan of the more complex, more “modern” historical romance, give this book a try, I think you will have as much fun with it as I did.