Perfumes of Paradise Author:Jennifer Blake Only moments before she is to marry a wealthy plantation owner she doesn't love, Elene Larpent's wedding is the scene of a bloody slave uprising. The bride's loyal mulatto maid (and aunt), Devota, whisks her out of danger, then goes to seek help. Alone, Elene finds her life imperiled once again by insurgents (regrettably called "... more »;Negroes" here and portrayed in a negative stereotype) who want to rape and kill her. This time, she is rescued by handsome Ryan Bayard, a merchant shipman of questionable loyalty and station, who becomes Elene's lover while under the voodooist spell of her intoxicating homemade perfume.
Their adventures together include: three days hiding from rioters in a dark, damp, rat-infested cellar; Elene's "defloration" by Ryan and the subsequent discovery that her groom is alive; escape by Ryan's boat from her island home of Saint-Domingue to New Orleans; and three arsenic murders and two attempted murders, possibly linked to Elene's perfume "Paradise." The lies, deceit and misunderstandings between Elene and Ryan are predictable. Yet, as the perfume death plot thickens and peaks, veteran romance novelist Blake's (Louisiana Dawn) historic tale gives way to more honest and interesting dialogue between the lovers. The first decade of 19th century French Louisiana is the setting for most of the book, and descriptions of fashion, architecture and mores help to illuminate the period.« less