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Vertigo by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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Ugh. The back of the book made it sound interesting: an erotic tale of forbidden love in Victorian England between a proper wife and a convict. Boy, was it wrong. VERTIGO was gossipy drivel and characterless events ping-ponging one after the other with no sense of foreseeable point and end.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Mrs. Emma Smith makes a resolution to be a better person. Her novelist husband, John, whom she has known since they were little, decides that the way she is to go about this is to strike up a letter correspondence with a convict in prison, a Chance Wood. At first his replies are frustratingly hostile, but then they get staggeringly intimate and inappropriate. Chance asks Emma questions no one, not even her husband, has even cared to ask, seeming to really care about her, to care about them opening up to one another.

As Chance and Emma grow closer, Emma desperately weaves lies to prevent John from finding out, and she finds it more and more pointless to engage in the same social strife she and John have always been a part of. She withdraws into her mind, into the world she has created for Chance and herself.

And then comes the day Chance is released from prison. After that, Emma’s life explodes.

There. I made it sound all ‘oooh’ nice, but read at your own risk. ( )
  stephxsu | Jun 22, 2008 |
suspenseful bodice-ripper with acurate historical detail and social commentary ( )
  aletheia21 | Feb 23, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385340311, Paperback)

In turn-of-the-century London, an exemplary Victorian wife begins a noble-minded project: writing letters to a lonely local prisoner. What happens next in this brilliantly crafted novel of literary suspense will change Emma Smith’s life forever—and ignite a dark, erotic drama of suspicion, loss, and awakening.

In the year 1898, Emma makes a New Year’s resolution: to become a better person. So, under the tutelage of her novelist husband, she begins an innocent correspondence with Chance Wood, a man serving his sentence for the murder of his wife. But from the beginning, in words that shock and intrigue her, Chance dares Emma to unveil her unspoken thoughts and desires. And when Chance receives a pardon, Emma is set dangerously free. She will use her freedom—and Chance’s—to pursue the fantasies that have been swirling dizzily around her. Slowly, recklessly, Emma exchanges all that was familiar and safe for her new, dangerous double life. As the risks mount and a friend turns blackmailer, Emma cannot stop her fall. For once she has given in to her truest, basest desires, she cannot avoid the ones that come next.…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:33 -0400)

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