by Suzanne Enoch

July 1998
ISBN: 0-380-79885-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

When the elderly Mr. Malcolm Bancroft had an apoplexy and was temporarily paralyzed, he wrote to his brother, the high and mighty Duke of Highbarrow to help with the running of His Grace’s estate. The duke sent his oldest son, Quinlan Bancroft, Marquis of Warefield, to oversee the crop management.

Maddie Willits, companion to Mr. Malcolm Bancroft, immediately had taken Quinlan to dislike. It wasn’t anything he said or had done either personally or by gossip – it was just that Maddie had such a very low opinion of aristocrats in general, as she had been socially turned out by them in the past. Thus, armed with barbed wit, she set to cutting up Quinlan without delay.

Quin had no idea what was going on. Upon hearing that Maddie was his uncle’s companion, he presumed that to mean that she was his mistress; though, for the life of him, had no clue as to why Maddie held him in such low esteem, never having met her before. Even if at first he couldn’t care less for Maddie’s attitude, he found himself attracted to her beauty and sharp wit, however insulting she might be to Quin. Maddie herself couldn’t believe that Quin was unfailingly polite despite her cold and, at times, indecorous comments that she hurled his way. Is he just thick or was there such a man of nobility who is also an honorable gentleman? Well, Maddie soon found that no, Quin was fairly intelligent and yes, he is nice. However hard she fought her attraction, she gave it up quite easily when Quin kissed her fervently one afternoon.

Maddie has her own secrets in which Mr. Malcolm Bancroft was privy to – and when Mr. Bancroft caught his nephew kissing Maddie, he immediately took Quin to task by asking him to re-introduce Maddie to London society, the very nobility that spurned her for some past indiscretion. Quin, convinced that he must make up for his imprudent behaviour, willingly took Maddie to London to be re-launched in society.

The general plot of the story is a bit hard to summarize but needless to say, as the 5-stars indicate, it is a first rate romance. Although there’s the typical secondary characters which consists of his and her dysfunctional-but-really-normal family, and the obligatory evil-to-the-core villains (yes, there are several!) to help the story along, there’s no sense of contrivance at all. While it’s easy to say that this is your standard romantic fare as far as plot goes, it is to Ms. Enoch’s credit (and her talent!) that makes By Love Undone quite distinct from the rest. Maddie is sassy, sharp witted and independent while Quin is honorable and sweet – Ms. Enoch gave life to these characters, as well as the rest of the cast, that made them irresistible, compelling and memorable.

There aren’t any flaws as far as I’m concerned – I was riveted from beginning to end. Be prepared to spend one sitting on this one!

Reviewed in February 2002 by Veronica.

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