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Regency Royal

The Overshams had repudiated Geoffrey and he never sought a reconciliation, but after his death his mother Lady Louisa wrote, offering Georgiana a Season in London. Georgiana set off for Pemberton, the Oversham country home, with Miss Amelia Bucklebury, the rector's daughter, who was leaving to take up another governess position that she was not enthusiastic about.

When post chaise damage stranded them at an inn, Georgiana decided to go on via the Mail; Miss Bucklebury was to return to Yorkshire when the chaise was repaired. Since a wealthy young heiress could not travel alone, but a governess could, the two swapped identities, and the confused inn staff switched the luggage.

Some way further on, they plucked Miss Cecilia Leroux nee Nafferton out of the snow, but it was clear that the Mail could go no further that night, so they sought shelter at the nearest house, a hunting box belonging to Lord Litchfield. When Litchfield and his guests Mr. Robert Utterby and Sir Oliver Townsend got a look at Miss Leroux, they knew immediately what her line of work was, but "Miss Bucklebury" declined their attentions and ate her dinner upstairs alone. In the morning Georgiana awoke to learn that there had been a break in the weather and the Mail had left without her; she had not been called because Sir Oliver desired to speak with her on business.

Sir Oliver's offer was not, as Georgiana anticipated, a position as his mistress. It seems that during a drunken evening, he had bragged to his friends that he could make any halfway suitable girl the Toast of London -- that he could even have such a girl accepted as his own cousin, Miss Georgiana Oversham of Yorkshire, by society and his own family. His friend Mr. Utterby bet his chestnuts that Sir Oliver's impostor would be found out. Georgiana was stunned to find that she was being asked to pose as herself -- and out of pique, she took him up on it.

Freddy was not bright, but he was kind, and Georgiana took an immediate liking to him, and saw to it that both of them escaped Clarice's schemes of marriage. When they removed to London, Georgiana became an instant success. Since Georgiana had the beauty and manners of a lady, the deception which she and Oliver were both beginning to regret was working well until Utterby, by now desperate for funds, schemed to ruin Georgiana in society, while Oliver wondered how he could have fallen so deeply in love with a fraud.

If not for a chance encounter with a certain eccentric Lady Brunswick, perhaps the puzzle could never have been solved. It's rather a complicated setup, and it depended upon some pretty tricky footwork to establish this premise, but once that was out of the way, I enjoyed this book. Freddy is particularly appealing to me; he is a kind man who likes animals and has always really had a calling to the church, but his ambitious mama would never have permitted that. Miss Ponsonby, whose jealousy festers, is also very well drawn. And who could dislike the cat Burdick?

This is another of those regencies which I enjoy as much for the subsidiary characters as for the central love story. Anne de Montforte, she was wearing only a satin robe and accepting money from a handsome young man leaving her rooms at dawn. Anne was the widow of Trev's cousin Peter, and it was his Uncle John who had told him that Anne was a conniving whore who had gotten pregnant and inveigled Peter into marrying her.

The Silver Bride

When Anne and her two young children, Nell and Alex, returned to England from Italy after Peter's death, Uncle John declared that she was unfit to raise his grandson and heir, and set Trev to find grounds to take the boy away from her. Trev was not entirely convinced that his uncle was correct in his obsession, but when he saw that exchange, he was persuaded that there was some truth in it.

He did not know that Anne was in her robe because she had spent the night nursing her Aunt Hetty through an asthma attack, and the young man was her cousin, Robin Godfrey, who was giving her some money to tide her over so that she wouldn't have to find work. Trev relays his uncle's terms to Anne, which include sending Alex to live with his grandfather when he is six, with only yearly holidays with his mother; when Anne finds that completely unacceptable, he invites her to visit his home, Sisley, and stay there for the summer while she decides.

Once at Sisley, Anne and Trev develop a strong attraction to each other. Trev sees evidence in Ann's behavior that whatever she may have done, she did not do it from a base motive. But it will take a precipitating incident with Alex for the truth of Anne's marriage to emerge. As yvonne and I have both noted, Emma Lange is hit or miss for us, but for me, this one was a hit.

It's written with energy and the strong emotions in it seem genuine. True, it does depend on The Big Mis for its plot, and, as in all such plots, it may seem that if the characters had sat down for twenty minutes and calmly told their stories to each other, they could have found the truth early on and saved themselves a lot of grief.

I found it a good solid read. When Lady Elizabeth Keaton's father died, her toadeating mushroom cousin Julian Dameron became the new Earl of Clymore and head of the family which he never let anyone forget. Unfortunately for Julian, he inherited the title and estates, but her father left the money to Betsy. Julian therefore made it his business to ensure that Betsy married no one other than him, but her grandmother the Dowager Countess wrung a promise out of Julian that Betsy should go to her in London for a time to make a match of her own.

Betsy was an impulsive bluestocking who had no wish to marry and have her person and fortune come under any man's control, particularly a creep like Julian. Charles Earnshaw would have preferred to be a scholar and pursue his scientific interests, but fate made him Duke of Braxton. He has avoided some of the drawbacks of his position by cultivating an eccentric reputation and is known to some as "His Dottiness". Part of his duties entailed riding herd on his younger brother Teddy. Charles met Betsy when Boru caused a traffic incident and in trying to help, Betsy tore his coat sleeve.

Compounding his dislike, Teddy told Charles that he had fallen for Betsy, so Charles made it his business to scotch that attachment, but chaos followed -- a torn gown, a bop on the head with the Ovid Betsy carries in her reticule, a scrawny orphan called Davey with a terrier called Scraps, more public disasters with Boru, as well as Julian's continual scheming to get control of Betsy's wealth. This is a very slight, very short novel intended as a madcap comedy romp, but I have read too many, I suppose, and plot and characters were all too familiar -- and not only from other regencies; a major comic scene was taken directly from the movie Bringing Up Baby.

I doubt if it was a theft; it was probably an homage, but whichever, it was too much for me. This book might suit lovers of madcap comedy prepared to overlook much in search of a laugh, but it held no surprises and it didn't make me laugh. I can't recommend it. It's actually Captain Rakehell and I own it. As with the one reviewed, not a great loss to literature if you haven't read it.

Can't recommend that one either. Not sure what put me off. It's supposed to be a romp as well but the 'funny incidents' weren't all that funny and I never did come to care for any of the characters. Since I am one of those "willing to overlook much for a laugh" I think, based on previous experience with this author, I give it a miss. Large print also available.

Miss Honoria Fenton and her mama had come to live with their "Aunt Thomasine" really a sort of cousin after her clergyman father died. In Mrs. Fenton's mind, all must give way to the needs and prospects of her son Percy, and so there had been no thought of a Season for Honor, who was now twenty-three. That changed when Honor received a surprising bequest from her godmother also called Honoria , in the form of a stunning diamond necklace known as the Luck of the Swyndens, which she had received from her husband, the Marquess of Melborne. One day shortly after they had come to Beaufort Square, Honor walked out by herself it seemed safe enough in Bath and wound up in the wrong place at the wrong moment.

She was in a fair way to being abducted into prostitution by the notorious Mrs. Grummage, when an unknown gentleman rescued her. He introduced himself as Mr. Jocelyn, and was soon a favorite, especially since he knew all about how to go on in Bath.

Honor found him very attractive, but when he told them he was acting as an agent of the current Marquess of Melborne to pursue purchase of the necklace, which was considered an heirloom of the family, she was miffed -- not knowing that Mr. Jocelyn and the Marquess were one and the same.

This is a Georgian-set light piece with some appealing secondary characters; I particularly liked Honor's little brother Percy, who has no interest in the education and prospects his mama dreams of for him, but just wants to fix clocks and fiddle with machinery. As often happens, the subsidiary characters are more vivid and better individualized than the central pair, whom I thought pretty standard spunky, pretty young miss and annoying, masterful hero , but there was some mild humor and quite a bit of the feel of Bath in Georgian times, which I did appreciate.

I rate it an okay if old-fashioned time-passer. I have to be honest: I had problems with this book. The hero's actions throughout are not those you expect of a grown man - the pretense grows stale fast - nor can I at all understand the ending, which I assume I'm supposed to find romantic but struck me as both anachronistic and plain silly. It's not a badly written book, in fact, stylewise it's quite good and it has as Janice said a great sense of place, unfortunately I don't think the dumb plot sufficiently makes up for it.

William rescued Isabelle from an embarrassing encounter with an ardent but non-English speaking suitor, but his blunt manners and evident amusement at the incident offended her. Isabelle's father was a professional gambler and Isabelle had traveled with him happily enough as a girl, but now that she had become a young lady, she had begun giving thought to her future.

She wanted to go to England which she had never seen and find an English home and an English husband. Her father was a younger son of Sir Walter Holland, and one of his brothers had married a fortune founded in the brewery trade. Nathaniel Holland was a bit on the vulgar side, but a woman of great kindness and good nature. She and her husband welcomed Isabelle and began introducing her to their friends and taking her about London.

Soon Isabelle was noticed by Lady Bromley, whose nephew Adrian, Marquess of Sutterton, was in desperate need for money. Adrian was handsome and charming and knew to a nicety how to make women fall for him, and soon he schmoozed Isabelle into believing that he loved her. However, somehow rumor had gotten about that Isabelle was wealthier than she was, and when Adrian found out that rumor lied, he dumped her, just as she was finding out what he was really like -- without boundaries and selfish to the core.

Isabelle needed time to sort out her emotions, and so she went on a visit to William's sister Liz in the country. William had sold his ship and purchased an estate in the same neighborhood. He had long since decided Isabelle was the only woman for him and was chafing at the bit to pursue his courtship in his blunt and direct way. It would take all Liz's considerable understanding of male and female thinking to keep William from moving too quickly and ruining things. Like most of the Clark novels I have read, this one is fairly serious but laced with humor.

I particularly enjoyed the scene at the office of Mr. What I found most interesting about this book is the extent to which the women manage the men - the aunt who manages her louche nephew's fortune-hunting, and the sister who manages her brother's courtship so that he doesn't become too impatient and ruin his chances. These women do not have the rights under the law which we moderns rely on, but they wield such personal influence that their legal status is almost irrelevant. It is a romance, but it is also an interesting study of how clever women coped in that era. When her uncle Octavius died under embarrassing circumstances, Lady Felicity Bellwood's father Augustus became the ninth Earl of Bellwood.

Felicity's mother had died long ago, and her father, though very fond of his daughter, had not seen to a proper upbringing for her -- or so thought Octavius's widow Harriet when she descended upon Bellwood House. Felicity had not been trained in feminine arts and wiles needed to make a grand marriage; she had not even been sent to a proper young ladies' seminary but had been allowed to read everything in her father's library and even to ride astride like a man sometimes.

Clearly Aunt Harriet had her work cut out, to whip this beautiful but opinionated bluestocking into shape for her debut. Some months later Justin came with Felicity's brother Peter to Bellwood House as a guest, sharing the family interest in horse breeding. Felicity found in Justin the one person she had met so far whom she could have a conversation with -- someone who didn't shut her down for having a different opinion or any opinion at all , someone who seemed on the same intellectual level as she was herself.

But Justin had a grudge from the past and until that was resolved, there was no possibility of a relationship between them. I liked the solid characterization of Felicity, and the odd sharp bit of character observation here and there. Though it's a fast read, it's carefully written. However, the revenge plot seems a bit silly -- something not well thought out and not really necessary to the story but just stuck in there in an unconvincing to me manner; the story doesn't need any false drama.

But, other than that, it seemed a pleasant tale of two people finding out that they are well suited. When a thoughtless act by young Lord Theodore Malverne lost Miss Victoria Dawkins her position as a governess in the Colfax household, she found herself alone in London with very little money to live on while she sought another position which would be hard to come by because Mrs. Colfax refused to give her a character. Some weeks later, when Colin Haverford, Earl of Clune got the story out of his feckless cousin, he went in search of Victoria. Victoria was by this time living at Mrs.

Rogers's rooming house in one of the lowest slums of London and going hungry, trying to make her precious coins last, when she was befriended by the Johnson children - Alfie, Bobby, Sally and Baby. Cole had not been raised to be the Earl; the old Earl had had three sons in line before him, but Proud Harry got shot by a jealous husband, Wicked John drunk as usual fell into the Thames and was drowned, and Secretive Maxmillian had a falling out with one of his lovers, who ran him through before his father could find out about the relationship.

Cole traced Victoria to the rooming house and was very surprised to learn that she was not the old bit that young Theo who thought all governesses were old had described to him, but a lovely young woman. Cole had no interest in ever getting married, so he offered her a position as his mistress, and Victoria told him to get lost. Because of his background Cole's values were a bit different from aristocratic norms; he was concerned about such things as what might become of an unjustly dismissed servant, and he thought it nobody's business if he took in four slum children to give them a better life.

Cole got Victoria a job as governess to the Ludlows, who lived in the Old Manor, near his estate at High Wyvern Hall, but she was not well treated there, and eventually she came to Wyvern. While Cole told guests hair raising stories of the ghosts of High Wyvern Hall, Victoria listened but thought nothing about it - and did not mention the pale young lady and the big black dog who seemed to appear and vanish now and then. Only Baby ever learned the truth about the lady, and he was much too young to tell.

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I've always liked this tale. The children are charming but not glurgey, Cole's change of heart builds believably, and the supernatural elements are more grace notes than plot devices despite what the back cover blurb says. One character, Miss Comfort, is more complex than one might expect, and very memorable. The book may be a bit talky for modern readers, but I like the author's humorous turn of phrase. It's a comfort read for me. Also available as ebook. Once upon a time in India a little girl desirous of an adventure escaped her ayah and ran off outside the army compound to climb her favorite banyan tree, from which she could see the village and the whole countryside.

There she discovered the Hon. Brian Brandon lying on the ground with a massive hangover. Brian and his Sprite spent a magical afternoon talking in the banyan tree, and she helped him make a decision to leave the army. Ten years later Brian was the Earl of Aldringham, back in England, wealthy from his Indian trading days with a friend called Ned Wolvercote.

Ned had become ill and had died in India, and he had made Brian ward to his niece, Lady Georgiana Southcote -- Brian's Sprite of long ago.

After her parents' death of the fever, Georgie had been taken in by Ned and had learned his trading business, but political turmoil made it unwise for her to remain in India. Ned sent her to her aunt Lady Debenham and charged Brian with control of her finances.

Georgie makes friends with Brian's sister Lizzy immediately, but her independent habits and intellectual interests are a source of dismay to her aunt. However when a spiteful remark by one of the beauties pursuing Brian strikes home, Georgie decides that a visit to Madame Celeste wouldn't be such a bad idea after all. Brian, who had been thinking of her as some sort of little sister, found that his feelings weren't brotherly at all, and that enraged his scheming mistress Lady Wyndham, who was determined to have him and his fortune.

This is a pleasant story with good characterization, some interesting Indian flavor, and no false melodrama. Nothing much happens, really, except the hero's dawning realization that Georgie is that rare woman he can talk to. Since so little happens, I found it a bit slow going at times, but it was worth the ride. ISBN: , , , , , , , , , Published March by Ballantine Books. Large print and audio book also available. Miss Eugenia Turville Ginny , a wealthy heiress, Yorkshire born and bred, had been invited south to spend a few weeks at the Turville family home, Lydeard Hall, before continuing to her godmother in London to make her debut.

As she was waiting with her maid Nancy at the local inn, she accidentally overhead a conversation between among others her cousin Francis and a neighbor, Sir Peter Martyn, who had once been engaged to Francis's beautiful sister Lucilla, but she had dumped him to marry a 70 year old with cash. Lady Turville hopes to add Ginny's fortune to theirs and expects Francis or his younger brother Aubrey to wed her - it doesn't matter which one. Aubrey doesn't wish to wed anybody but a certain sweet ninnyhammer he has secretly fallen for secret because he's afraid to tell his mother.

Francis, who is feeling the pinch of his mother's ambition, jokes that the last time he saw Ginny, she was a roly poly infant, and calls her the "Yorkshire Pudding". Ginny is mortified and instantly resolves to get her own back. Ginny's first words to Lady Turville when they meet are "Eh, don't put yourself in a taking, ma'am", and her broad Yorkshire accent and forthright manner are all that Lady Turville feared.

Nevertheless, there's a fortune at stake not that the Turvilles need it, all are comfortably off. One by one, however, the gentlemen learn that the country bumpkin manner is just a pose, and that there is a clever, beautiful and very desirable young lady behind them. Ginny is more and more attracted to Sir Peter and he to her , until Lucilla, now conveniently widowed, returns home and decides to pick up with Peter from where she dumped him four years ago.

Ginny has a clever, focused and somewhat ruthless rival. For the first few pages, I found this tale a bit hard to get into, and the bit with the Yorkshire accent made me fear that it would just be a gender switch on The Unknown Ajax. However after that the characters became individuals and I became quite interested in what happened to them.

I must see if there's a followup book; Francis needs his own story. I would recommend this book and this author in general to those who enjoy the older, more leisurely and textured style of romance storytelling. When Miss Jessica Winslow's father, a soldier, died, he left his family very little, and so his widow married Mr. When her drunken stepfather began to notice her maturing beauty, it was clear that Jess had to leave. She went to her mother's cousin in London, Lady Sarah Renwick, but Sally did not move in the first circles; her house was filled with young blades and one of them, Edward Stafford, was seen to kiss Jess in public.

The kiss was against Jess's will, but Ned's older brother Justin Stafford, Earl of Roxham knew Sally's reputation and believed his brother's account; he tossed Jess a purse of gold to pay her off, and Jess was ruined. With a letter from the vicar where she had once lived, Jess got a companion job, and when her employer was so ill as to need a nurse instead, she recommended her for a post with Lady Beatrice Carstairs at Bleithewood, Roxham's country seat. At Bleithewood Jess was soon liked and respected by everyone, but her beauty continued to draw unwelcome admiration.

Jess only wanted to keep a low profile, but she was pursued by young Viscount Avensley and the vicar Mr. When Roxham came home and found Jess there, he assumed she was there to snare a wealthy husband and warned her that if she got out of line, he'd turn her off on the spot. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he knew an adventuress when he saw one.

Many readers complain about the "Big Mis" as a plot device. Usually I don't have a problem with that, because people misunderstand other people continually and are always making snap judgments on the slightest or most slanted of evidence. However, a reasonable person changes his opinion when new information comes to light. Our hero Roxham is not reasonable; despite the testimony and regard of everyone at Bleithewood and the behavior he observes himself, he hangs on to his misconceptions about Jess's character far longer than any reasonable man would.

It takes him a very long time to think of even questioning his rackety brother's story. Jess puts up with all this with nobility, desperation and dignity, but Roxham is such an arrogant jerk that I could not like him nor believe in him as any kind of a romantic hero. Jess deserved better. Celina had had two seasons in London but had not had any offers she wished to accept.

Her brother Lord Forsyth Edmund has Forsyth Hall, where he lives firmly under the thumb of his petulant wife Eleanor; they have five girls and two young boys. All are used to turning to Celina for help and agreement whenever it suits them, without regard to her peace; since she is a spinster of twenty-six, it does not occur to any of them that she might mind. Two of the daughters are now old enough to wed. The eldest, Lydia, is very beautiful and had attracted several admirers in London but none had come up to scratch, possibly because Lydia, though sweet-natured, is a none-too-bright watering pot, and her mother's discussion of marital duties, while not explicit enough to be understood, has put her off the idea of marrying altogether.

The second sister Nelly, a self centered miss inclined to fits of high drama, has decided that nothing must stand in the way of her marriage to Captain Henry Gordon -- but Eleanor has decreed that Nelly may not marry until Lydia does. This fiat has thrown the household into stormy chaos. She is fond of Celina and schemes to help her; if Celina married, her family would not be able to harass her. To that end she summons her nephew, Jervis Blaine, Marquess of Wroxton to visit her, planning to make a match between him and Celina.

The plan is off to a rocky start when Celina is knocked into the shrubbery by Jervis's curricle coming up the drive. The plan goes further awry when Eleanor decides that Jervis would be an excellent match for Lydia, Celina is hounded by a thickheaded suitor who can't believe that any woman would not be grateful for his offer, and Nelly begins staging Incidents. Sometimes I find a vintage regency interesting as much if not more for its secondary characters as for the central couple, and this is one of those.

These are not stock figures; Edmund, Eleanor, Nelly and even lachrymose Lydia are fully rounded individuals. I did wish there had been more information about Nelly's intended because I wanted to know if he was aware of her ruthless, obsessive way of thinking what Nelly thinks she needs, Nelly will get any way she can , and what might happen if Nelly should find marriage to him a disappointment in some way.

I liked the author's clever showing that children often inherit their parents' emotional natures. Ancilla Martin's husband Jack had been army mad and had died in battle. After his death Ancilla left Littlelands Manor to live in a cottage on the edge of the estate with only her faithful maid Sally and a pittance to live on. Ancilla had understood that before he died Jack had bought the cottage for her just in case, but there was no deed to be found. When Ancilla received notice from the solicitor for the heir, George Martin, that Littlelands including her cottage were to be sold and she must vacate, she was desperate.

Hoping it was some sort of misunderstanding that could easily be set right if she spoke with George personally, she set out for London with Sally, but bad weather forced them to stop over at an inn, where she encountered Baron Langley Devin. Ancilla had known Devin before, when she was still married to Jack, since his estate Fairfield Park neighbored Littlelands, and there had been an attraction between them even then, but Ancilla's principles had never let it develop into anything further.

Devin was still strongly attracted to her, but he liked her as well; they shared a love of horses and racing. The two spent that night together, and Ancilla believed he meant marriage, but Devin had in mind something more like friends with benefits. Devin knew of her financial problems and so he had offered a loan, but Ancilla without that note thought it was payment for services rendered. She tucked the roll of soft in her reticule, tabled her rage, and continued her journey to London. Once in London, Ancilla called on George to discuss the cottage.

At first George denied the obligation, but after his friend Sir Robert Purcell, who was also present, took him aside for a word, he returned with a different tale. It would, he said, take some time to do the paperwork on the cottage, and in the meantime, Ancilla should stay with him and enjoy what London had to offer; he would make all proper by inviting his sister Mrs.

Vera Cummings to stay also, and he would see that she had pin money and a proper wardrobe to enter society. Ancilla accepted his story, not knowing that Purcell had told George that his markers would be forgiven if he and his sister helped induce Ancilla come to him as his mistress. It seemed that circumstances were conspiring to make Ancilla the whore of one man or the other. I do think the horse racing setting was rather sketchy and got in the way of the change of heart theme, as did the murders plot, and I was sorry that the one subsidiary character I liked turned out to have dunnit.

Nevertheless I thought it an entertaining read. When his elder brother George who was only twenty five died in a riding accident, John Penhope became the Duke of Winterbourne. John had not been brought up as the heir, and he had been quite happy with the life he had chosen as a scholar of the classics; he found the wealth and responsibility of his new rank a crushing burden which he longed to escape. Miss Lydia Grenville had been raised knowing it was her duty to marry well.

She had had her Season in London but had not found a husband; she had not liked any of the gentlemen who offered for her, and her fond parents had not made her accept any of them, though their disappointment was patent. Just as John longed to escape the endless business of his ducal responsibilities, Lydia loved to escape the atmosphere of rebuke in her home. Whenever possible Lydia escaped to the woods with her sketch pad, and one morning when she had strayed onto Winterbourne land, John encountered her there. It was a magic moment for both of them, a moment outside of the weight of others' expectations, when they could both be themselves, but John lied -- he told Lydia he was the duke's secretary, Alexander Penhope.

Of course it was not long until Lydia found out who "Alexander" really was. Lydia, already miffed, was pressured to attract the duke and brought out all the artificial airs and graces she had been taught; John was convinced that she wanted him for his position, not for himself. A promising love affair was further endangered when John's ward Fanny started gossip that ruined Lydia, and someone took a shot at John in the woods. I give this book points for showing a bit of what being socially ruined really meant in one's life, but I think some of the incidents bodily tossing a duke down the front steps seem a bit unrealistic -- nor does the book need the assassination subplot.

I do appreciate that the author gives reasons for all the characters to act as they do; they are more than plot contrivances. So, although it doesn't exactly "feel right", I liked it anyway. Also available in large print and as audio book. Lord and Lady Clavendon live in London, in a happy second marriage for both of them. Lord Clavendon has a son and heir, Anthony Pedmore, by his first wife, and Lady Clavendon has two daughters, Jane and Victoria, by her first husband. Lady Clavendon's niece, Miss Ellen Farrell, is staying with them while her parents are traveling abroad.

Lord Clavendon inherited unexpectedly when his two brothers died in what seemed natural circumstances at the time, but one of the widows, Elizabeth, is spreading rumors that he murdered them. Lady Clavendon has long hoped that her daughter Jane and her husband's son Anthony would make a match of it. Unfortunately for her plans, Anthony is infatuated with his mistress, Miss Fanny Bishop, and Jane has a tendre for Mr. Randal Beresford, a gentleman she met while she was away at school in Bath. Randal, however, seems much more interested in the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two late Lord Clavendons than he is in Jane.

Fanny is quite an acquisitive wench and the expense of her establishment has caused Anthony to exceed his allowance. His father has said he would increase his allowance if he married, so Anthony asks Ellen to pretend to be engaged to him until he can sell a hunter and get his finances straightened out, and Ellen agrees even though she cannot like deceiving Lord Clavendon. Events take a more serious turn when reckless driver Anthony is injured in a curricle crash, which upon investigation does not appear to be an accident at all, and Ellen thinks Randal may be involved.

This was an entertaining read, both for the wit and the cleverly rigged clockwork plot. It is after the style of Heyer, and some of the characters are quite reminiscent of hers, but they have such clever dialog that I can forgive that. It is, however, not a very romantic romance, in that Ellen and Randal don't spend much time together and the development of their relationship is more a matter of decreasing antagonism than increasing affection.

Those looking for an intense emotional experience might find it lacking, but I liked it well enough. I read this book for the first time a few months back and thought I recalled it perfectly well, except for Ellen's love story. Upon rereading it held no surprises; it was as I remembered. I paid particular attention to Ellen's story this time but have to agree with Janice - it's so slight it for obvious reasons held no place in my memory!

However, if we set aside the romantic aspects or lack of them , the book as a whole is a funny read in well written, fast flowing prose. As an amusing visit with some nice people whom know how to entangle their otherwise simple lives I can recommend it. When their mother lay dying, she placed her infant Meriel in ten year old Sydney's arms, and ever since Sydney has been as much mother as sister.

Meriel is now seventeen and jawdroppingly lovely, as well as genuinely sweet and talented; a bit otherworldly at times but not at all stupid. Sydney is twenty-seven and unmarried, and except for a brief, almost forgotten, romance with her sister's tutor, she's never really thought about it. Suitable young men in their little country village are few, if any, until the arrival of Sir Max Westbrook, who has taken a house in the neighborhood. Sir Max brings a guest, Morgan Leighton -- the young man who romanced Sydney ten years ago, then left for London when he received an unexpected inheritance, after which Sydney never heard from him again.

Max is drawn to Sydney but finds that there may have been more to Sydney's past acquaintance with Morgan than he knows. Sydney thinks Max would be a good husband for Meriel despite the difference in ages, but when Meriel returns from a visit to her godmother in Bath, she has other plans. Egotistical Morgan wants to bring Sydney to heel again, and village irritant Miss Arabella Cole does not intend to be upstaged by anyone. This is a funny, gentle comedy of several couples sorting themselves out -- no great melodrama, just time spent with pleasant people you'd like to have as friends, and enough sand in the mix with Morgan and Arabella to keep it grounded in reality.

I like this author's sharp eye for personality quirks, and it doesn't hurt that she was clearly a great fan of Austen and Heyer. I give this a strong recommendation. The Earl of Terrington had recently returned from Washington, and one of the secret documents entrusted to him has gone missing. Suspicion has fallen upon the Earl and his assistant, Mr. Barrymore, but proof is needed and the leak must be plugged. It has been arranged that the Earl and his lovely violet-eyed minx of a daughter, Lady Melanie Crawford, will be borrowing the London house belonging to the Duke of Wakefield; after training by the Duke's butler, Andrew will pose as the replacement butler Davies.

Lady Melanie is not that keen on a London season -- she feels that at 23 she is too old for that -- but she knows something is bothering her father, and when she finds out what it is, she readily agrees to go through with a season under the aegis of her grandmother Lady Charlotte Abbington so as to provide time and opportunity to discover the traitor's identity.

Her companion, Miss Evingale, a devotee of the Gothic novel, is immediately suspicious of the bogus butler because he so resembles the sort of hero found in her favorite tales, and she makes a fan of such novels and a co-conspirator of Lady Charlotte. Most of the servants are also aware of Andrew's real purpose. Even Prinny knows. Andrew's task is complicated because he has fallen for Melanie and she for him.

This is the second book in a three book series anchored by the spymaster Sir, the other books being The Journals of Lady X and Bride's Leap. I found it rather formulaic, although I give the author points for providing a villain with credible motives, even though it seemed an awfully long time before he was collared, and for injecting some humor with the ladies' devotion to Gothics they know all the plot points. The only bit of ongoing interest in it for me is whether the identity of spymaster Sir would ever be revealed it wasn't, in this installment.

Baron Blayden was short of funds, as usual, and his only untapped asset was his unmarried son Marcus. Therefore Lord Blayden forced his son to marry Miss Fleur Pennington, an heiress, by telling Marcus that if he refused, his invalid sister Deborah would be wed to Maxwell, a three-time widower notorious for his vices. Fleur had no choice in the marriage either; her grandfather was obsessed with having a titled grandson, which she was to provide.

Fleur's father had married a French lady, whom old Mr. Pennington had driven off after his death. Fleur lived with her grandfather thereafter, and had had no contact with her mother for years. As a child she had been taught the ballet by her Maman, and she still practiced every day. When Marcus met slim and waiflike Fleur, he thought her still almost a child; he told her that they should get to know each other for a time before making theirs a real marriage.

While they were honeymooning at Blayden, the news of Napoleon's escape reached them, and Marcus hied off to France to serve his country; he was fluent in French and had a talent for gathering information.

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When he did not return after Waterloo, Fleur went to her grandfather. After her grandfather died of an apoplexy brought on by learning that she was not pregnant yet, she found her mother's letters that had been kept from her. With no word from Marcus, she went to her mother and stepfather in London, where, as the masked Goddess Flora, she took up dancing with her stepfather's troupe at Rockstone's gaming club -- which is where Marcus found her when he returned from France and, enraged, abducted her to teach her a lesson.

I can't like this book; its attitudes seem very dated to me. Fleur is hopelessly winsome, charming, waiflike, innocent and perfect. Even worse, Marcus, despite all the mitigations the author put forward for his cruel, manipulative, self-centered behavior, isn't my idea of a hero. He never really learns better and he suffers no real consequences for the way he treats Fleur. His delay in returning from France was because he was ill after being kicked in the head by a mule. I was disappointed that the mule didn't make a more thorough job of it. The book is, however, well written as these things go, and readers who don't mind these tropes which annoy me may well find it entertaining.

About the author: Mira Stables Gyte married Cook was a mother of five and a rather prolific British writer. She had a spate of romances published in the 70's and early 80's, mostly for the Corgi imprint. This book is dedicated "For Tom and Molly Gyte.

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Nursing a broken heart, Lucian went off to Brussels to rejoin the army, but there a strange thing happened: Lucian found that absence did not make his heart grow fonder -- rather the reverse. His infatuation with Barbara faded away. In Brussels he was billeted with a local family, where he met Miss Alicia Delacre, who was also living there with her father and brother Timothy. Her father had fled to Brussels where the living was cheaper and his creditors and gaming debts could not follow him.

Lucian and Alicia fell deeply in love and were married June 11, Lucian escorted Alicia to the Duchess of Richmond's ball and that night rode off to war. He did not return after the battle; Alicia searched for him but found nothing, and believed herself a widow -- until a letter from her friend Octavia advised her that Lucian was alive, back in England and betrothed to Barbara. The Duke of Pryde had not, after all, come up to scratch his mama had been against such a match , so when Lucian returned, Barbara held him to his promise.

Lucian had been wounded in leg and head; he had lost his memory of the last two years and believed himself still betrothed to Barbara. When Alicia arrived, Lucian did not recognize her, and Barbara, in a rage, argued that Alicia's proofs of the marriage were fraudulent and Alicia must be an opportunistic whore. But Alicia had her marriage lines, she had the signet ring Lucian had always worn and had assumed lost in battle, and she had the testimony of a credible witness. Barbara was surprised and displeased when Lucian elected to stay in Yorkshire with Alicia.

Alicia loved the Abbey on sight and began to make it a comfortable home, as well as making friends - and an admirer - in the neighborhood. Faced with the possibility that her angry, sullen husband would never regain his memories, Alicia resolved that spoiled, vindictive Barbara should not have him, and went to war, in her own way, for Lucian's love. One can generally count on Ellen Fitzgerald who also wrote as Pamela Frazier, Lucia Curzon, Zabrina Faire and Florence Stevenson for a well told tale with credible characters and events and a reasonable amount of feeling for the period.

I did feel it had a rather convenient resolution if one bonk on the head makes a man sick, another bonk will surely cure him , but the characters, particularly the subsidiary ones, were interesting and I read on to find out what happened to them. I liked it, but now that I know what happened, I doubt I'd reread it. While Merry's older sisters were married Cordelia or betrothed Theodosia , Merry was pale, shy and bookish and had failed her first season. It was therefore clear that the best she could hope for was Mr. Jonathan Tiffen and life in a country parsonage, and her mother ordered Merry to accept him when he offered.

Merry, however, had a gigantic crush on "Old Harry", a rakish gentlemen she had seen but never been introduced to; she did not even know his real name. Harry had sold his commission after being wounded, and had been living a life of leisure in London ever since, with his best friend Major the Hon. Crispin Maunby for company. Crispin is a younger son of an earl and on half pay since Waterloo, but he can't go home because a certain Miss Venables appears to be expecting an offer from him. Merry could not endure the idea of a boring life as a parson's wife and believed that from her reading she was pretty wise in the ways of rakes.

She decided that a rake like Harry would never offer her marriage, but he just might offer her carte blanche. When she fell ill and overheard the doctor say she had only two years left to live, her resolution was strengthened: she would go for it. Merry did not know that Harry had just inherited Scantleby Hall, his rackety godfather Hubert Parfitt's estate, and is now shopping for a wife, not a mistress. This is a fast, funny read, very light hearted, with considerable wit.

I also give the author points for sending me to the dictionary to look up "thrasonic" and "brawn" as a food, and it doesn't sound appealing. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to readers who are looking for a cheerful evening's read. A man may do just as he chooses, but a woman must at all times be discreet. When Sydney came up from the country, she captivated and married Lt. General Sir Maxwell Cunliffe, but they had little time together before he was called back to the wars, and his last sight of Sydney was of her resembling a 'baby hippo', since she was pregnant with their daughter Savannah.

What Max did not know was that Sydney had not married him for his fame and fortune; she had fallen head over ears for him the first time she saw him. If all Sydney wanted from Max was a luxurious London life, well, he had his longtime mistress Mrs. Edleston to console him. Mary Anne had had her own disasters. She had broken with Captain Anthony Rodes, her lifelong love, gotten herself betrothed to wealthy Lord Littlecote and then cried off, intending to get Anthony back somehow. She descended upon Sydney in London and learned three things right away: Anthony had unexpectedly come into a fortune and he'd never believe her rekindled interest was anything but cream-pot love ; he was now betrothed to Lady Barbara Kennet; and Sydney had lost a naked painting of herself to Max's bitter cousin Lord Linley Mortlock, which he intends to use to humiliate Max and break up their marriage.

Mary Anne decides it's up to her to sort all this out: repair her sister's marriage, get that painting back, and get Anthony back too. This short, lighthearted novel is set during the summer of when the "Peace Celebrations" drew foreign dignitaries to London and many lavish entertainments were thrown.

When not bickering and scoring off each other, the characters attend several of these events. There is no sense that a year later Napoleon would return to power and England would be at war again. Such things have no place in a comedy, I suppose. Although the dialog and the plot were fast and funny, I was left wondering where they would all be next year and hoping little Savannah would not lose her daddy. Recommended for an hour's enjoyment if your temperament is less gloomy than mine. Well, if we're to be gloom and doom merchants we might as well contemplate the fact that it's almost as likely her mother died in childbed or Savannah herself succumbed to a then untreatable illness than a high ranking officer died in Waterloo.

Mortality rates were extremely high in all cases, you know. Personally I like the insouciant attitude, the "peace forever" feel that permeated the air at the time that this author manage to capture so well. From contemporary records we know that people in general believed the war was finally over. It was only some far seeing military experts that expressed concern over Napoleon's possible return to power. The average citizen were not about to listen to some Domesday prophets. Seems to me, from the vantage point of history, that the mad gaiety then was very like that of the roaring 20s after WWI ended.

Nobody then would've thought that two decades later the world be plunged into an even worse war. The hippo comment threw me a bit though as it felt completely anachronistic. Not that people were unaware of the existence of hippos but they were not so well known that a person would use that reference back then. For my take on the book see the Marian Devon page.

I've never heard of hippos being in the Tower Menagerie, but there were books by African travelers around so I don't think we can rule out that someone might have thought of that analogy. But perhaps a cow would have been more likely I am aware of the history you mention, but we and the author see it all in hindsight; we know what happened next -- so it's odd to me to see no trace of foreshadowing in the book. This is probably not something that would bother a casual reader who isn't that into the period, so I wouldn't say it was a flaw -- just a curious point to me.

As for the deaths - think of all the people who have died in regencies just for the setup - so that we could have widows and widowers, orphaned heroines and convenient inheritances! Miss Georgina Goring, 29, daughter of Lady Goring, had had her one Season in London, but she did not enjoy it much and nothing came of it. She enjoyed living in the country, with her novels, her household tasks and the society of her neighbors. Nevertheless, when Miss Susan Wyndham's aunt fell ill and Georgina was asked to see Susan through her first Season, she undertook to do so.

It was not an easy task, since Susan was an energetic, inventive girl who was used to being the center of attention and getting her way; she did not realize that her brother Sir William and the rest of her family gave in to her because they feared her unbridled rages. In London Susan expected to be the center of attention as she had been at home, but she was only one of many pretty, wealthy girls.

With her ego already smarting from this, Susan fell into a fury when she met Lady Marianne MacClain at a ball -- not only was Lady Marianne a beautiful redhead too, she was wearing nearly the same gown as Susan. It required all of Baron Ellerton's social skills to prevent an explosive display of Susan's temper.

Susan sees that engaging Ellerton's attention would enhance her popularity, but Lady Marianne seems a rival. When one of Susan's schemes involving the cat Daisy to make it seem that Ellerton is interested in her ends in disaster for Ellerton, Georgina becomes his nurse to make up for her charge's behavior. This shortish novel is a sequel to First Season , but it is not necessary to read them in order.

It is mostly a story of two couples sorting themselves out, partly because of and partly in spite of Susan's actions. I found this mildly interesting, although some of the situations the author treated humorously seem anything but to me. Susan isn't a very likeable girl, and I was left wondering if I was supposed to believe she'd mature out of her unthinking fits of anger and develop some impulse control in time. It's my belief she won't, so I'd like to see what became of her, and whether she and the cat Daisy broke any more legs and heads, or even hearts, as her career progressed.

Well, I liked this book. It seemed a bit rushed at times, what with all these people and their 'intrigues' and what not, so some incidents that should have received more development is pretty much left hanging. Rather non-stop happenings, whether amusing or not I leave to the reader to decide. I enjoyed it but didn't find it that humorous. Too much heartbreak for that, I thought. Daisy is a menace but no more so than his owner yes, Daisy is a tom! This was one book that benefitted from a reread as I could finally sort out all the characters! Miss Perdita Chase was the daughter of Edmund Wycoller, an actor, and a lady who had married to disoblige her family.

When she was a child, her mother died and her father agreed that she should be raised by her uncle Matthew Chase for the advantages, including a settled home, which her uncle could give her. Matthew Chase's second wife had a daughter, Jane, by a previous marriage, and Perdita and Jane grew up like sisters.

Two brothers, Jeremy and Christopher Dole, who lived on a neighboring estate, were special friends. Perdita had for years nursed a secret love for Jeremy, but Jeremy thought she favored Christopher, who was closer to her in age. One day as Perdita and her pet dog Frolic were out walking, an old enemy of Jane's father mistook her for Jane and kidnapped her for ransom and revenge. Jeremy and his servant Clamp used some of the skills they had learned during the war to track the kidnappers and rescue Perdita.

Unfortunately Jeremy was seen by Mrs. Banistre-Brewster, a notorious gossip, coming out of Perdita's room at the inn where they had gone to recover. Jeremy was put on the spot, and so to save Perdita's reputation, he said they were married. Thus began a marriage based on misunderstanding and noncommunication, with Jeremy believing that Perdita loved his brother, and Perdita believing that Jeremy had no interest in her and only married her because the situation forced him to as a gentleman.

As the couple drift ever further apart, Perdita becomes a popular young bride in London, Jeremy becomes ever more jealous, Perdita takes up playwriting, and Jeremy believes she is conducting an affair right under his nose -- not knowing that the man he suspects is Perdita's own father. This is an old fashioned rather melodramatic novel and at times I found it difficult to remain interested.

None of the characters really came off the paper for me, but I read on to see how the author would resolve the plot and whether what appeared like dropped threads would be picked up again. I didn't dislike it but it was rather slow going at times. Ebook also available Belgrave House. One London morning, at the hideously early hour of nine, the Earl of Winterbourne descended upon his younger brother, Lord Justin St.

The shriek of her nearest neighbour awoke the others and four faces peered down at her from the edge of the coverlet, their braids dangling like a row of bellropes. The dream of an armoured knight, visor down, thundering towards her with a deadly lance aimed at her breast? Bring us in no bacon, for that is passing fat, But bring us in the good ale and give us enough of that, And bring us in good ale!

Bring us in good ale and bring us in good ale, For our Lady's blessed sake, bring us in good ale. Tankards slammed bawdily upon the trestle tables and the great hall of the Duke of Gloucester's castle at Middleham guffawed with Yorkist laughter as the cockatrice, a gaudy, four-legged monster with the head of a rooster and the tail of a crocodilus, capered round among the revellers. By rights, the legendary creature should have had a piglike rear but no one could be bothered arguing.

It staggered and swore with two voices as someone grabbed hold of its scaly tail. She recovered her balance and craned the cumbersome beak round to see which drunken lout was impeding her progress. The merrymaking had become suddenly too boisterous and some of the more unruly youths were trying to discover who owned the cockatrice's legs. Will, the duke's jester, loosened his arms from Heloise's waist and jabbed two fingers out the rear end of the costume into the fellow's nose, and then he squirted the contents of a leather bladder after it. The onlookers collapsed in fits of raucous laughter as the esquire staggered back in humiliated surprise, his face dripping with pudding ale.

Thank heaven she wore a black mask as well. Yes, definitely time to make their exit. This prank was growing far too perilous. God's mercy!

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If it should be discovered that one of the duchess's maids-of-honour was prancing in doublet and hose — with a man's arms and face against her waist not that the jester ever showed any interest in women — her virtue would be put to the question. Besides, it was not just fear of disgrace that was fraying her wits but a gnawing sense of evil about to happen. Heloise did not answer. She swayed as the rush of blood that precipitated a vision flooded her mind. Not now, please God, not now!

But it came unwanted — the nightmare image of the duke's son choking for breath, writhing upon the floor. He turned her towards the dais, for the great chamber where they had left their outer garments lay beyond the high table — the high table where the duke's heir, a giggling ten year old, was reaching out to the golden platter of wafers and sugar-coated almonds.

Almonds that could choke a laughing child! But how could she risk the life of Richard Gloucester's precious only child? The cockatrice hurtled up the hall-its rear staggering-dived under the cloth of the high table and heaved. It reared up to grab the platter of almonds and tripped. Silver dishes skidded, sweetmeats flew as if magicked, goblets splashed their contents down the sumptuous cloth, the central trestle tumbled, crashing down the steps and the duke and his guests sprang up.

The music and the laughter stopped in mid-breath. Heloise, blanching behind her mask, took an anguished look at the coloured shards of costly glass spattering the tiles, and gazed up wretchedly at his grace's astounded face. But the boy was safe. Uncertain, surprised, but beside his father, safe. Silence, growing more menacing by the instant, surrounded the grotesque cockatrice.

Heloise backed into Will, wishing the floor would swallow her up. For an instant, it seemed to the onlookers that the monster's back and front legs were trying to go in different directions and then the creature shook itself into some sort of unison and hurtled out the nearest door. Briskly, she gripped the painted edifice that had been stifling Heloise and wriggled it free.

Already there were raised voices beyond the door. Heloise blinked at her helplessly, wishing desperately that she might turn time backwards. How could she possibly explain? I am so sorry.

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God's mercy, where —' Scanning the chamber, she snatched up Heloise's discarded over gown. Oh, lordy, here is the judge and jury. Despite his thirty-one years, Duke Richard of Gloucester was not a tall man but being a brother to the King, his authority gave him the extra stature and he was looking stern enough to hang a man-or woman.

His brown eyes took in the discarded skin of yellow fustian, the scaled, flaccid tail, and rose questioningly to the scarlet-beaked head that his sister-in-law was hugging to her bosom. Margery gave a tiny shrug and the duke stared beyond her to his wife's crumpled maid-of-honour. Heloise's face burned with shame as his shocked gaze fell upon the ungirded gown with its collar slatternly awry, and the loosened ginger legs of the cockatrice puddled around her ankles. Gravely, she removed her mask. At least her accursed hair, bonneted into a coif, was out of sight.

They had been so courteous and decent to her, these people, and this was how she repaid them. All the warmth and respect she had sought to kindle in her few months atMiddleham was turning to ashes. Controlled though it now was, Gloucester's voice was like a lash to her already bruised morale. Others had followed the duke in; the chamberlain and his grace's chaplain, and she could hear an inebriated crowd gathering outside with the excitement of carrion crows anticipating a killing. I beg your pardon, your grace. Not to the beatings and the anger.

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