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In Haeger's impressive Restoration romance, King Charles II and his mistress, the fruit seller turned actress, Nell Gwynne, leap off the page. Following his exile and his father's murder, the notoriously lascivious Charles, who has a passel of illegitimate children, falls for Nell after seeing her appear in one of the bawdy comedies that have propelled her to fame. As the two become lovers, Haeger skillfully depicts the complexity of a relationship between the most powerful man in England and the beautiful girl from London's gritty Coal Yard Alley. Nell tries to keep up with her acting career and maintain her preferred status amid a coterie of beautiful competitors, including French noblewoman Louise de Keroualle, sent by Louis XIV to woo Charles as he mulls political negotiations between the Dutch and French. Charles and Nell are marvelously complex—jealous and petty, devoted yet fallible. Haeger (The Ruby Ring) perfectly balances the history with the trystery. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.