According to Romance Writers of America, romance books garnered $1.08 billion in sales in 2013 and accounted for 34% of the fiction market. With stats like that, I’m wondering why I didn’t choose the romance genre but then I remembered — I have no talent for it. Ah, but Lady Shey does. Loving Lady Lazuli is the classic storyline of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets girl again, but told as a relentless, breathy romantic mystery.
It’s been decades since I read a bodice-ripper if you don’t count the Outlander series by Diana Gabladon which markets itself as romance, but is really a hybrid — the love child of Romance and Historical Fiction — and I may have never read another one if I didn’t chance upon Shehanne Moore’s blog and struck up a friendship with the Lady Shey.
Now, announcing your desire to read a virtual friend’s book and write a review can be a tricky process even if they don’t live across the street from you because, well, the blogosphere has limits, too, writer’s tend to travel in the same circles, and you just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Thank GOD that I just adored this book because all that worry is now a moot point. After reading a few chapters of Loving Lady Lazuli, I was hooked. Moore writes a self-described brand of romance that she calls “smexy”— a cross between smutty and sexy — a classic pot-boiler of a book with the trademark characteristics of historical fiction adding to its allure.
Loving Lady Lazuli is the story of Sapphire, the renowned London jewel thief who no one has ever seen. Sapphire’s greatest defense has been her invisibility. Her many costumes and identity changes have allowed her to remain elusive and because of that, the most successful jewel thief in England. But one evening Sapphire makes a terrible mistake. Her “mark”, the famous Wentworth emeralds, are in her grasp, but the escape route is not. Her partners have let her down and there is no way out except a long trek across an open field in winter, and in an evening gown, no less.
Complicating matters, there is a witness, the rich, young, handsome Devorlane Hawley who happens upon the bewitching Sapphire while driving by in his coach. The unsuspecting Hawley has no idea what’s happening when he offers Sapphire a ride. It all happened so quickly, that kiss, that hand where hands should not be when strangers are involved, the pawning off of the Wentworth emeralds into Hawley’s pocket without him even knowing, and her alighting from the coach before he could catch his breath and clear his addled brain. Months later, he’s been enlisted into the army, the rich man’s version of punishment for a theft, preferable to hanging from the end of a noose, but still a high price to pay for a crime he didn’t commit. She caught him all right, with a breathy kiss and a swift goodbye and he will use all his resources to exact revenge.
For ten years Devorlane harbored his enmity, for ten years, he replayed the events of that night, and for ten years he swore that one day he would find and catch Sapphire and make her pay for ruining his life. Ten years of feeding and nourishing that hatred which festered like the wound to his leg when, upon his return, he is met with a sight that makes his heart both soar and shatter — it’s her, Sapphire, sitting in his drawing room. Now who’s caught?
Want to find out? Then read Loving Lady Lazuli, a romantic page-turner of first order. You may want to ditch the tea and crumpets for something stronger!
About Pam Lazoz.
P. J. Lazos is the author of the novel Oil and Water, about oil spills and green technology, and of Six Sisters, a collection of novellas; a blogger for the Global Water Alliance (GWA) in Philadelphia; on the Board of Advisors for the wH2O Journal, the Journal of Gender and Water (U of Penn); a member of the Jr. League of Lancaster; a former correspondent for her local newspaper (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal now LNP); a literary magazine contributor (Rapportage); an editor; a ghostwriter; an author of a children’s book (Into the Land of the Loud); an environmental lawyer; and, because it’s cool, a beekeeper’s apprentice. She practices laughter daily.