by Stephanie Laurens

ISBN: 0-06-056741-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

How does a romance novelist, with a popular series, continue to generate interest and excitement for her readers? By creating another cast of compelling characters for a new series! Stephanie Laurens still has plenty of stories to tell for the Bar Cynster, but she is not content with this family drama. She is moving instead, into the realm of the Bastion Club, where the unsung heroes of England’s espionage elite are gathering to take their places in society. Formed by a common need - a place of retreat from the demands of marriage-minded mamas and their dutiful daughters - the Bastion Club will serve as meeting place, hideout, and social club for this diverse band of patriots. The men have all returned to England only to find that their older brothers, cousins, or other relations next in line to the title have all perished, forcing them to enter the glittering world of the ton. With social skills honed on the battlefield and in foreign service, they soon discover that one of the most important duties required of them will be to marry - and marry well.

Tristan Wemyss, fourth earl of Trentham, agrees to oversee the arrangements needed to convert a quiet home into their “stronghold in the heart of enemy territory.” After the house is selected, on a quiet street near Mayfair, Tristan assumes command of the required renovations. When a meeting with his new neighbor reveals more than a polite exchange of names, Tristan finds himself drawn into a mystery with dangerous overtones.

Miss Leonora Carling is quite intent in discovering the purpose behind the purchase of No.12 Montrose Place. She has heard that the gentlemen who purchased it will not be residing there, and she is concerned that the series of recent events in her own home have a root in their activities. Not only was her family harassed by the same agent who handled the sale of Number 12, now there have been a series of attempted burglaries at her home, Number 14. She is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, since her uncle and brother are oblivious to the world outside their library.

As Tristan hears Leonora’s recounting of the harassment and attempted burglaries, he discovers two things - this is the lovely young woman he saw from his terrace - and her family may be in danger. With his own inheritance in disarray, Tristan knows that the last thing he should do is involve himself with the Carling’s problems, but he cannot stay away. The instincts that were carefully honed spying on French military installations are too strong. He is compelled to offer his expertise and aid.

The Lady Chosen sparkles with wit and excitement. From the first page to the last, I was swept away by the strong characters and plot. The glimpses of other “club” members was enough to whet my appetite for the rest of the series. Ms. Lauren’s has another best-seller to add to her list, and romance readers have another outstanding novel for their keeper shelves.

Reviewed in July 2003 by Paula.

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