The rough charm and heat that fueled Dance with the Devil are largely missing from Douglas's second novel, which reels through more melodramatic tragedies than the Book of Job. Softhearted, emotionally fragile Patricia Dennison, orphaned heiress to the Stoneham fortune, divides her life between trips to a Swiss sanitorium, where she is ensconced in the suicide ward, and the farm where she pensions off broken-down horses, cultivates a lush rose garden (with ladybugs, not pesticides) and moons after a handsome, seemingly heroic doctor. Enter arrogant Miguel Cardiga, a Portuguese bullfighter whose career is sidelined by a rogue bull's deadly horns. Son of a famed equestrian, Miguel schools Patricia in dressage and love's thrust and parry. Meantime, Stoneham Group trustees plot to declare Patricia incompetent and engineer a series of accidents designed to drive her over the edge. Although Douglas has proven himself a capable storyteller, he soaks this sticky-sweet romance in a rain of cliches and predictably cyclical lovers' spats. Flashes of wry humor can't salvage pasteboard characters and a creaky plot.
Clean tight bright copy Dust jacket in fine shape
Looks barely read