“A lushly romantic adventure story set in the North African desert in 1914, told by the impeccable Lady Treal as she reminisces in her London town house about her decidedly peccable past . . . Well-written, expertly plotted, perfectly paced.”—Newsday
With her anthropologist husband murdered and their caravan stolen by fierce Tuareg tribesmen, Caressa has two choices: death or a life of slavery. Concealing her dangerous beauty beneath the faded robes of an Arab boy, she embarks on the adventure of her life, harassed by vicious nomads, slave traders and the envious witch doctor, Isa. Only a handful of carnival magic tricks stands between her and oblivion. Then she discovers an inner magic so mysteriously compelling that the desert people call her a sorceress. . . .
“Sheer reading pleasure.”—Publishers Weekly
The author of the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries applies her talents to romance and danger in this entertaining tale of a young American woman's unexpected adventures in Africa during the early years of WW I. Raised in a circus by her widowed mother (the headless woman) and fortune-telling Grams, who teaches her to juggle and pick pockets, Caressa Horvath is sent to a Boston finishing school, which she leaves after she is caught lifting the wallet of world traveler Jacob Bowman. Capturing his heart, she marries him shortly before they embark for Tripoli, where they assemble a caravan and set off into the Sahara. They are attacked by fierce nomad Tuareg bandits, who kill everyone except Caressa because they fear her wooden finger puppets, made by Grams. A credible series of mishaps, trials and moments of courage keep Caressa alive as she and Bakuli, a captured Zambian youth, escape into the desert. Eventually they are taken as slaves; after helping Bakuli run away to freedom, Caressa is bought by a man who turns out to be a Scottish adventurer--and the love of her life. Encompassing betrayal, treachery, sorrow, heroism and ultimately reunion, Caressa's first-person story, begun in 1980 in order to inform her granddaughter of her background, offers sheer reading pleasure.