Help a Reader Out

We have a request to find a book – and there’s a lot of details so someone should remember this. UK readers, please let us know if you’ve heard of it.

I read the book in hardcover probably somewhere between 1994 and 1996.  As I borrowed the book from the library it may have been published around that time, or it may have been published much earlier.  The book cover was grey with either two masks on the front cover (one red and one black) or a red rose and a black mask.

It was a historical romance set in England during the time of the French Revolution and involved the heroine marrying a man that she barely knew and both the hero and heroine finding each other particularly dull.  Each, however, was a captain of their own ships and were sailing across the channel each week to help save prisoners in France.  Each was sailing under an alias.  The heroine’s alias was something to do with red, i.e. scarlet, rouge, etc, and the hero’s alias was something to do with black, i.e. noir, etc.  There was the usual conflict at sea between the two of them, which meant half way through the book they hated each other and by the end of the book they loved each other and then found out at the end, shock and horror, they were married to each other and never knew.

I am in the UK and I don’t know if it was only a UK publication or if it was published in the US as well.




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  1. 1
    celeste says:

    Desire in Disguise, by Rebecca Brandewyne. I bought it at a bookstore in the Atlanta airport back in 1987 so I’d have something to read while waiting for a friend’s flight. I remember the plot because it was so crazy.

  2. 2
    celeste says:

    He called himself Noir, and she was Rouge. Her ship was the Crimson Witch, his the Black Mephisto. I kinda suspect that if I reread it now there’d be some eyerolling moments.


  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    This sounds so campy I might have to read it. Noir? Rouge? Wow.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    bettie says:

    I instantly recognized the book from the UK reader’s description, though I had no idea what the title was. So, thanks from me, too, Celeste!

    I read it back in junior high school and loved it because it seemed like a “his & hers” version of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  So silly, so fun. 

    Wasn’t there also a plot element like, the heroine always powdered her hair when she wasn’t out swashbuckling, so the hero didn’t know what color hair his wife had?

    Now that I’ve been reminded of the title, I’ll have to find a copy and see if it’s as crazy as I remember.

  6. 6
    bettie says:

    Ooh.  I probably should have spoilered that.  Sorry folks.  I was giddy with nostalgia.

  7. 7
    celeste says:

    *** Spoilers ***

    In their “mundane” lives, they’re married. They loathe each other and have never consummated the marriage. When they have an affair on the high seas, they keep their masks on, so they don’t realize they’re married to each other. She’s a virgin, and he wonders what kind of unappreciative asshole she must be married to.

    Yeah, it was pretty out there, if I recall correctly!

  8. 8
    Marg says:

    Sounds so silly that it will be fun! Doesn’t look all that easy to find unfortunately

  9. 9

    Oh my god!  It’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith!  I have to track this down.

  10. 10
    Cathy says:

    Marg—there are 5 copies available on

  11. 11
    Kaitlin says:

    As soon as I read this I knew what it was.  It was way out there, but the sex was amazing!  Silken ties…yum, yum.  *snicker*

  12. 12
    Michelle says:

    I ordered a copy on Paperbackswap yesterday.  Sounds like a fun read!

  13. 13
    Elayna says:

    Oh Wow!  Thank you for the great response.  I read this a while back and the story recently came back to me, but typically I couldn’t remember the author or the title. 

    It probably is really bad, but I do remember enjoying it, so I just hope that I enjoy it as much now.

    Thank you everyone!

  14. 14
    Renee says:

    Oooooh I remember that one well couldn’t remember the title though.  I think I may still have it back in the boxes of trashy books from highschool. (My mother was soooo accomodating of my reading tastes) I believe it was read and re-read.  Very campy but great fun.

  15. 15
    Narcissa says:

    I recognized the book immediately from the description.  Ah how I miss the Brandewyne novels of the 1980s!  I always loved how she would have a picture of herself on the back trying to look somewhat like the heroine on the cover.

    It’s timely that this book got mentioned. I just spent the weekend rereading a Brandewyne…“Rose of Rapture”.  Now that is my favorite of hers.

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