While this book doesn't supplant UNTIE MY HEART or THE PROPOSITION as my favorite Judith Ivory novels, it was memorable enough to revisit in the future.
Coco was an original heroine, and I enjoyed both her independence, her maturity, and her unrepentant past. Ivory was particularly clever with how she signaled Coco and James's happily ever after (normally a heroine sleeping with the hero is the sure sign of their devotion and HEA-ness, but for a former courtesan, that won't work).
As much as I enjoyed Coco, I enjoyed James even more. Seen through Coco's eyes, he is a singular hero. I loved the build up of their attraction, and their first love scene scorched off the pages. While many heros are proported to be guiless and forceful, the details Ivory choses for James truly made me see him that way. I'll certainly remember his charisma and sexual chemistry, in addition to those human scenes that allowed him to blossom as a character ( The bat at the opera comes to mind: "James screamed. No other word for it.").
Both Coco and James were in situations that seemed destined forheart break(in terms of society, politics, and realities of colonialism), but Ivory softened reality just enough to promise happiness without completely losing plausibility. A thoroughly entertaining and charming story.