Desert Isle Keeper Review
As You Desire
1997, Historical Romance (1890s [Victorian] Egypt)
Dell, $7.50, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 0440221994
When Harry Met Dizzy. Only better. My first Connie Brockway, and thank goodness, I have her others in my stockpile. This is a terrific book!
Lovely Desdemona Carlisle is a young Englishwoman living with her grandfather in Victorian Egypt. Desdemona was a child prodigy, brilliant, reading twelve languages, and a fabricator of romantic illusions. And, why not? Her parents dragged her all over the world, put her on display, and effectively deprived her of the time all little girls need to spin their daydreams. Dizzy's looking for a hero, the man of her fantasies (and mine!) to carry her away on his destrier back to England, and love her for herself alone and not for her accomplishments.
Harry Braxton, a rogue living in disgrace and shame after having been sent down from Oxford, has abandoned England forever to carve a very successful life for himself in discovering and selling Egyptian antiquities. Harry has two monumental secrets, he loves Dizzy, and he cannot read. Harry is dyslexic in a time when the problem was not well understood by physicians, let alone educators or even one's own family. I love that Brockway did this, because it makes Harry an immediately sympathetic and approachable hero. And, what a hero! Harry is brilliant, charming, loyal, dedicated, funny, and sad. Oh, did I forget incredibly handsome as well? Despite his "handicap" Harry has thrived in Egypt, but is missing the one thing that would make his life complete. Dizzy. He won't tell her of his "affliction" however, for fear she will find him disgusting, and abandon him as has his family and the rest of the world.
Together, Harry and Dizzy are an utterly charming pair, complimenting each other beautifully. They are "just" friends, each trying ignore that the other wants so much more. When Harry fears his cousin will succeed in stealing Dizzy from him, he has no alternative but to bind her to him any way he can. All the preceding sexual tension pays off in a very tender consummation that is as loving as it is sensuous.
Throw in fabulous secondary characters, the color and beauty of 19th Century Egypt, plenty of twisting and turning action, dry yet scintillating humor, and you have an Egyptian treasure right in the palms(!) of your own hands. Marta, Cal, Blake, Magi, and Maurice are the most wonderful bunch of second bananas I've ever read. Nobody's stereotypical, the humor and emotions are genuine, and you sort of root for everybody to come out a winner, except for the bad guy, who justifiably gets it in the end.
I think you'll remember Harry and Dizzy for a long, long time.
-- Marianne Stillings
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