by Debbie Raleigh

November 2001
ISBN: 0-8217-7169-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Miss Sarah Cresswell is possessed of a high degree of intelligence, a beautiful figure and a pair of devastating blue eyes. Unfortunately, she is also possessed of a father who is a criminal, and has apparently fled the country. The latter circumstance renders her, in society’s opinion, completely ineligible, and frankly she’s not too worried about it.

Of course, that’s before she meets the “Flawless Earl” – Lord Chance! Chance has an annoying younger brother (there’s a lot of that going around!!), and the predicament young Ben lands the family in is quite serious. Missing family heirlooms are not to be sneezed at! So when Lord Chance is advised to seek the advice of Miss Cresswell under the notion that “‘it takes one to find one’”, he’s agreeably surprised by the lovely woman who shatters his equilibrium, agrees to help him find the jewels, and steals his diamond stickpin, all within a matter of moments!

Ms. Raleigh has done an excellent job in recreating the manners and mores of Regency society; Sarah’s conviction that she is ineligible is essentially correct, and we must sympathize with Lord Chance as he slowly reaches that realization himself. Their romance is delicate and gentle – a pleasant change from the groping and gasping encounters found between the covers of some of today’s historical novels – and Chance restrains his lustful tendencies to a few sweet kisses. Consequently, the emphasis is on the dawning of the love between our hero and his chosen heroine, rather than their rush to find any kind of physical fulfillment. Sarah behaves exactly as any good Regency miss should – taking care of her reputation and trying to fight the inevitability of her feelings for Chance.

Chaste though it may be, this romance is perfectly orchestrated through a not-too-complex plot, which does take second place to the adventures of Sarah and the Earl. I note that almost everyone seemed quite bright, and I was consequently rather frustrated that nobody noticed the absence of the primary suspect! However, this did not detract from the charm of watching the two would-be lovers twisting and turning against their fate; I might have encouraged Chance to display the courage of his convictions, but that could have spoiled the delicate appeal of this innocent tale. A lovely novel for an afternoon with tea and munchies – if you’ve a teenage daughter, share this with her and get her started on the romance of the Regency!

Reviewed in February 2002 by Celia.

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