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And Then She Fell
by Stephanie Laurens
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-006-2068644
***
Stephanie Laurens has been one of those authors that I have both enjoyed and been disappointed in. I generally enjoyed the early Cynsters and even a few of the more recent ones. I could never get into the Bastion Club stories, but others have found them classic. And Then She Fell, which was titled by a fan in a contest, fell short of Stephanie Lauren’s excellence but was an enjoyable story.

The story is set eight years following the wedding of the last Cynster sister and the heroine is Henrietta, who was left the famous necklace with magical powers. But for years not only has the magic not worked, but Henrietta has become complacent that it will never work. At age 29, she doesn’t even wear it anymore. But her younger sister Mary is ready to marry and in order to get the necklace herself, Henrietta must marry and pass it down to her.

Reluctantly, Henrietta pulls it out. The first night she wears it, she steers a young woman from a beau, something she has done often in the last few years. In fact, many come to her to verify whether the man in question loves or just wants them. In this case, it is a friend that she is warning against.

James Glossup is a friend of her brother Simon and she has known him for years. He is now in an unfortunate situation. His grandaunt left him a fortune and many estates. To push him into marrying, he must marry by a certain date in order to keep the money that supports the estates and all of the people who work on the estates. James just discovered this clause and so has limited time to find a bride. He is distressed that Henrietta figured this out, since he was trying to keep it quiet. He just wants to find a suitable bride and support those in his care. He approaches Henrietta to confront her about ruining his chances and is surprised at his reaction to her. He has always found her engaging but never in a sexual way or any way other than as his friend’s sister. Henrietta, meanwhile, is surprised at her reaction to his simple touch. She feels enervated and notices that the necklace feels warm against her skin.

Thus begins a rather familiar plotline. James enlists Henrietta’s help in finding a bride only to realize that they want to marry each other. But thrown into the mix are several attempts on Henrietta’s life, which could be brushed off as accidents at first. But when a large rock almost crushes her and she is shot at while riding, James is convinced someone is out to end her life. The rest of the story revolves around finding the killer, without alerting him to the fact that they know he is out there.

I did enjoy the story and mainly I enjoyed the nice romance between Henrietta and James. Neither is extraordinary but they are comfortable as the hero and heroine. The suspense built to a satisfying conclusion although the reason for the danger was rather bland. And of course, there are many characters from the previous Laurens books that make appearances and play roles in solving the mystery. While I did enjoy the story, it did not grab me like many of the original Cynster stories. Those first six heroes and their lovely heroines are very large and on big pedestals. The recent generation of Cynsters has not matched those original Cynsters yet.

However, many will find Henrietta and James strong and worthy of the story. And Then She Fell may not be at the height of Stephanie Lauren’s talent, but has many positives to enjoy.

--Shirley Lyons


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