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Dark Desires    by Eve Silver order for
Dark Desires
by Eve Silver
Order:  USA  Can
Zebra, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Orphaned, penniless and turned out of her home, Darcie Finch is forced to do the unthinkable. She makes her way to an East London brothel in the hopes that the infamous Mrs. Feather might take pity on her and offer her employment. Instead of taking Darcie in as one of her new girls, Mrs. Feather offers her alternate advice - to seek out Dr. Damien Cole and ask for a position in his household with a reminder that the good doctor owed Mrs. Feather a favor or two. As a grateful Darcie takes her leave, the madam offers her one last bit of advice 'and have a care of him, Dr. Cole. He is a hard man, a man to fear. Stay out of his way. Stay clear of his work. And keep your nose out of his secrets'.

Darcie's first few days as Dr. Cole's new maid-of-all-work are uneventful as she settles into her daily tasks. Nevertheless, curiosity about her elusive employer grows. Other staff members are eager to reveal that Dr. Cole goes for days without food or sleep while shut away in his laboratory. Even more disconcerting are late night callers bearing bundles that vaguely resemble dead bodies. There is also the eerie fact that more than one female staff member has disappeared without a trace. Rather than being terrified by these tales, however, Darcie finds herself even more fascinated by Damien Cole and his many dark secrets. A man who had been so kind to her could never be responsible for anything remotely sinister - could he?

One night her curiosity gets the better of her and she invades Damien's inner sanctum. Lying open on a table is an anatomy book filled with sketches that Darcie immediately finds woefully inadequate. Unable to help herself she makes corrections hoping the good doctor won't notice. When he does, he offers her the chance of a lifetime - to use her obvious artistic skills to illustrate his research. Long hours spent in close confines with her employer confirms what Darcie already knows, that Damien Cole is a kind man, but also a man completely obsessed with healing. But as gruesome killings around White Chapel escalate and Damien continues guarding his secrets, shadows of doubt begin to cloud Darcie's growing passion. Could there truly be another darker, more sinister side to the dedicated and charming healer who's stolen her heart?

Eve Silver breaks into the gothic romance genre with a resounding splash in this debut historical romance. Atmosphere, tone and character development are the cornerstones of a memorable gothic romance and Silver embraces every aspect with real flair. At the outset, Darcie is exactly the kind of female lead that readers expect: timorous, obedient and desperate for a better life. Over the course of the story, she experiences satisfying character growth as she works to overcome fears instilled by her station in life. She also tries to deny the growing attraction she feels for her employer - who's instilled by Silver with just the right amount of dark ambiguity. A fine cast of secondaries complements the tale as does Silver's skill in keeping the identity of the real killer shadowy until the end. Dark Desires is a well-executed gothic romance and Eve Silver is certain to attract many new readers who enjoy this genre.

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