Mary Jo Putney's "Thunder and Roses" - #1 in the Fallen Angels series

Thunder & Roses - Mary Jo Putney

Most of the book is pretty good, and some scenes are classic - the duel with whips, the billiard game ;-). But the last 60 pages or so, starting from the dancing scene at the gypsy camp, are eye-rollingly dreadful, especially the showdown scene. The George Madoc and Michael Kenyon characters are undeveloped and unbelievable - one is just a cardboard villain and the other is just cardboard. (Kenyon is supposed to be the same character as the hero of "Shattered Rainbows" but he's completely different in that book.) At least the heroine didn't turn out to be a lost heiress.