By Elizabeth Peters

The once a year historic Romance Writers of the realm conference in ny urban is asking to Jacqueline Kirby, a Nebraska librarian who desperately wishes a few pleasure. yet all isn't love and kisses at this august amassing of starry-eyed eccentrics and nostalgic scribes. so far as Jacqueline is anxious, the unexpected "natural" dying of a gossip columnist turns out whatever yet. And while she's approached by means of a well-liked style famous person who fears for her personal existence, the ingenious Ms. Kirby fast is going again to a sleuth. simply because there is a sinister state of affairs being penned at this red prose congregation. And whilst jealousy and fervour are given loose rein past the limits of the published web page, the end result will be homicide.

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She asked, and they turned her down. Naturally. So she went right ahead without permission. ” “Hattie? ” Jacqueline asked. “You don’t know Hattie? My dear, you are really out of your milieu. She organized this conference. ” “Good gracious me,” Jacqueline said humbly. “I didn’t realize. ” 26 Elizabeth Peters Her informant cackled like one of the witches in Macbeth. “Hattie Foster is an agent, dearie. The agent. All the top writers in the field are in her stable— Vanderbilt and Valentine and Victor von Damm—all of them.

Dubretta asked. Betsy told her, eyes shining; free publicity was a boon to a protester. “Romantic novelists perpetuate an image of women that is archaic, sexist, and harmful,” she recited. “It’s the old ‘women love to be raped’ myth. ” Dubretta scribbled. “. . degrading but treacherous,” she repeated. “Men are still hung up on the old Lustful Turk image,” Betsy said. “They . . Jake? ” “Nothing,” Jacqueline said. “You remember that book, don’t you? We all read it. What was the name of that girl, the English major—” 58 Elizabeth Peters “There is certainly a great deal of The Lustful Turk in contemporary romance fiction,” Jacqueline said hastily.

Most of ’em would kill to have her handle their work. ” The speaker’s name tag was pink. It was not difficult to deduce that this category included agents; the bitterness in the woman’s voice was heartfelt and personal. The lady in mink, who had shown signs of perturbation during the agent’s tirade, exclaimed, with a nervous titter, “All the big names, Pat? ” “What? Oh—oh, no. ” The agent got her face under control. “Uh—ladies, you all know the famous Rosalind Roman, I’m sure. ” “Dear Pat . . ” There was an uncomfortable pause.

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