Friday, February 15, 2019
Book Review: 'The Bloody Ruse' by Patricia Catacalos
“The body on the bed is not Marisa”
New Jersey author Patricia Catacalos earned her BA in Theatre from Seton Hill University and a MA in Theatre from the University of Denver and worked as an actor and director in the Philadelphia area. She now writes historical romances – stories that blend history with fiction – as well as historical mystery thrillers. To date she has published over twenty novels since 2013 – THE BLOODY RUSE is Book 1 of her 1832 Regency Series.
The flavor of Patricia’s story is established in the opening lines: ‘ “You have agreed to a marriage contract..for me..to marry a spinster?” “I suppose at two and twenty years of age she is considered a mite ‘long in the tooth.’ But, she comes from a very reputable family,” Hamilton St. Lawrence, the Earl of Bennington, covered his mouth with his hand to hide his burgeoning smirk as he watched his only son grow more and more agitated by the subject of their discussion. “Mother, are you truly in agreement with what father proposes?” Simon St Lawrence, Viscount Waverly, grimaced as he appealed to his mother. Lily St Lawrence, the Countess Bennington, tenderly smiled at her handsome son presently looking quite pale. “Simon, dear, you have played the rake far too long. It is time for you to contemplate marriage. You are seven and twenty years of age and must think of the future…Perhaps she is slightly older that you might want her to be, but she is most likely quite intelligent and affable.” “Intelligent…? Affable…? What of beauty?” Abruptly turning to his father, an exasperated Simon demanded, “Arranged marriages are archaic. We live in modern times. Bloody hell, it is 1832.”
One of the several reasons Patricia’s stories work so well is her ability to adapt the manner of speaking, the conversational tone of the time of the novel. Her experience in the theater is evident in the manner in which she paces her tapestry of romance and intrigue. And it is that formal manner of nineteenth century language that transports us in time to experience the story as it is revealed.
The plot is outlined well – ‘London, 1832…Debonair Simon St. Lawrence, Viscount Waverly, lives a rakish lifestyle. So, his parents have arranged a marriage for him, much to his chagrin. Lady Marisa Denton is as opposed to the marriage contract as is Simon. Together, they scheme to dissolve the marriage arrangement but reluctantly fall in love. In the meantime, they are dangerously thrust into a search for a murderer in league with body snatchers selling cadavers to medical schools.’
This novel works well – and is a reminder of the genre of Poe, Austen, and Browning among others. A refreshing glance back to Victorian tales!
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.