The Prince's Bride

Only in Your Arms by Tracy Cozzens
(Zebra, $4.99, R) ISBN 0-821-76530-2
In 1601 London, Marcus Sinclair is just another actor working with William Shakespeare when a friend asks him for a very big favor. Lord Richard Langsforth is determined to marry Lady Judith Ashton, but despite his attempts at wooing her, Lady Judith is betrothed to the despicable Viscount Mowbray, a man who has been through four wives already. So Richard asks Marcus to rescue Lady Judith and return her to the Langsforth estate so they can marry.

However, there are a few flaws in the plan. For one thing, Marcus finds himself entranced with Judith and must fight his growing attraction. After all, heís a lowly actor, sheís the only daughter of a baron, not to mention that his best friend wants to marry her!

On top of all this, Lady Judith is reluctant to disobey her father. While the thought of marrying the Viscount turns her stomach, she was raised to honor her father. She certainly canít just run off and marry an Earlís son that she vaguely remembers. But Marcusí pleas for her safety, and his haunting gray eyes, help Judith realize that maybe true love isnít just for fairy tales.

And thatís just the first seven chapters. What happens in the remaining sixteen? Will Marcus convince Judith to leave her father and her doomed betrothal? Will she marry Lord Richard? Will Marcus and Judith find happiness with each other in a society ruled by class, nobility and rank?

Only in Your Arms is emotionally draining and satisfying all at once. Thereís something for every reader within its pages, whether it be plot, character development or atmosphere, this story has it in spades.

Tracy Cozzens should be commended for her wonderful character development and plot pacing. All of the main characters are wonderfully complex, with good and bad qualities. One minute I was disgusted by their behavior, the next I was cheering them on. Because of this, they felt distinctly real to me, and I became invested in their struggles.

And what struggles they have! The action in this story is never ending. Whether it be wrestling with their emotions, or running towards freedom, there is no down time. The main characters must face one challenge after another.

But what ultimately sealed this book in 5 Heart glory was Audrey, Judithís outspoken and fearless maid. Her story alone could easily have found its way into another novel, but by weaving her tale in with Marcus and Judith, Cozzens gives readers two great romances for the price of one.

Only in Your Arms has everything a great Shakespearean romance should -- tragedy, comedy, star-crossed lovers, betrayal, conspiracies, and Elizabethan intrigue. Cozzens is definitely a rising star to watch.

--Wendy Crutcher

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