Posted by: Jennifer | June 9, 2008

The Courtesan’s Secret – Claudia Dain

Dain, Claudia. The Courtesan’s Secret. (New York: Berkley, 2008). ISBN – 9780425221365.

Main Characters: Sophia Dalby; Lady Louisa Kirkland and Lord Henry Blakesley

Date: 1802

Related Works: This is part of Claudia Dain’s The Courtesan series. The first book in the series is the Courtesan’s Daughter – the story of Caroline Dalby and the Earl of Ashdon. The Courtesan’s Secret is the second book. The third story in the series is the story A Night at the Theater in an anthology entitled Private Places (to be released in August 2008). This story is a prequel and details to romance of Zoe Auvray and the Duke of Aldreth. Sophia meets her future husband, the Earl of Dalby. Lady Amelia Caversham’s story will be the fourth in the series, titled The Courtesan’s Wager (due out February 2009).

Descpription from Book:

On the night of her debut two years ago, Lady Louisa Kirkland fell for the devilishly handsome Marquis of Dutton. It’s high time, she’s decided, that he realized he loves her in return. Also, there is the little matter of Louisa’s family pearls that are in his possession. For both problems, Louisa will need help – but she need not look far. For was it not Sophia, Countess of Dalby, who masterminded her own daughter’s whirlwind courtship and marriage – above her station and within days?

As an ex-courtesan, Sophia is delighted to help any woman acquire jewelry and so she agrees. Although she knows Dutton couldn’t care less about Louisa, Sophia also knows of another gentleman, Lord Henry Blakesly, who couldn’t love Louisa more. When the two men make a bet, the fate of both Louisa and her pearls lies in the balance. But the debutant, the pearls, and a wager are all Sophia needs to hatch the perfect plan.

My Thoughts:

Wow, this book is very different from what I consider to be traditional historical romances. Sophia Dalby, an ex-courtesan who married into the English peerage, is the central character – the one who is the key to the entire series – from what I can tell. The romance in the story is somewhat secondary (although I did not think that the story of the romance itself suffered; it all actually made sense). Lady Louisa Kirkland asks Sophia for help retrieving her pearls. Her father sold them to Lord Dutton in The Courtesan’s Daughter (which I have not read yet). Sophia agrees to help Louisa despite the fact that Louisa admits that she hasn’t been particularly agreeable to Lady Dalby. One of the great and not-quite-so-clear mysteries of the book for me is the question of why Sophia is willing to help Louisa. There are many hints that Sophia Dalby has her own agenda based upon her past and her past relationships to the fathers of many of the primary characters.

But, help she does. Her machinations make up the main storyline. At the end of the book, I was quite satisfied with how Louisa ended up married, but felt as if I couldn’t quite figure out how Sophia had pulled it all off. There is definitely more to Sophia’s orchestrations than revealed thus far. I do wonder how much of the story I am missing because I have not read the first book in the series yet (something, I intend to rectify shortly). I am getting the sense that the author won’t truly reveal all of Sophia’s secrets until the end of the series.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like the fact that it is quite different – and I got sucked into not only the story of Louisa and Henry, but also the story of Sophia. The book itself took me a while to read. There is a great deal of dialogue, much of it witty banter that required close reading. I have a tendency to read very quickly and to scan quite a bit of text in the process. With this book, careful reading was required. It was fairly easy to miss something important. I do feel that I need to read this book again, but am hoping to wait until after I have a chance to read The Courtesan’s Daughter.

Read first June 2008

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Responses

  1. […] in the series is the Courtesan’s Daughter – the story of Caroline Dalby and the Earl of Ashdon. The Courtesan’s Secret  is the second book. The third story in the series is the story A Night at the Theater in an […]

  2. […] The Courtesan’s Secret – Claudia Dain […]

  3. […] The Courtesan’s Secret – Claudia Dain […]

  4. […] in the series is the Courtesan’s Daughter – the story of Caroline Dalby and the Earl of Ashdon. The Courtesan’s Secret  is the second book. The third story in the series is the story A Night at the Theater in an […]

  5. […] The Courtesan’s Secret- the story of Lady Louisa and Lord Henry Blakesley […]


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