The Royal Talisman
Erotic Historical Romance
Self Published/January 7, 2012
It is 1884 and France is at war with China. Stuart Sutherland-Bruce returns to England after a posting in China as a member of the English diplomatic corps. He meets the astonishingly beautiful Bian, an exotic woman who turns his life upside down with the power of his desire for her. As she continues to astonish him at every turn with the unexpectedness of her life and her responses to him, he falls deeply in love with her.
But Bian did not wander into Stuart’s life accidentally. She has orders to become intimate with him and prove he has been giving English secrets to the Chinese. Yet as she works her spell on Stuart, she learns he does not seem to be the traitor her British superiors assure her he is.
Bian is caught in a trap: If she reveals to Stuart her real — and shocking — identity, she will lose the man she loves. If she honours Stuart’s highest values and does her duty, then Stuart will be tried for espionage and hanged.
Although a quick read, The Royal Talisman provides much in the way of suspense and romance. The romance happens rather quickly, practically love at first sight for Stuart. Bian is more cautious and continues to play her role. She tries to keep her distance from Stuart but he is determined to follow his heart where it leads - right to Bian.
Stuart Sutherland-Bruce is awestruck when he meets the beautiful and mysterious Bian. He needs to know more about this exceptional beauty. Stuart came across as a straightforward character, not much mystery which left me feeling very little curiosity for him. His desire for Bian was superficial - he was a man who wanted what he couldn't have. Like a little boy, tell him he can't have it and he wants it that much more.
Bian is playing a dangerous game with Stuart. She takes the lead and continues to lead Stuart where she wants him to go. Stuart is proving to be more of a distraction that Bian anticipated, making her feel things she doesn't want to feel for him. Bian stole the show for me. She was the driving force behind the story. It was obvious there was far more to her than she let on.
The romance was quick with Stuart pursing Bian while she tried to keep to her role but failed when she realized she was falling in love with him. I found Bian's feeling towards Stuart more believable than his towards her. Even though Bian believed Stuart capable of treason, she let his actions determine her feelings towards him. For Stuart, he didn't know Bian well since she was keeping secrets about who she really was.
Bian's unconventional background and her place in society were interesting in that it set her apart from the usual historical heroine. I do wish there had been more information on Bian - I feel like we only scratched the surface of a fascinating character. Stuart was a little too bland, having the habit of fading into the background while Bian took the spotlight. I do like the time period and would love to see these characters again in perhaps a more exotic setting.