by Denise Hampton

December 2003
ISBN: 0-06-050911-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

As Cassandra (Cassie) Marston and her sister Elizabeth are preparing to leave for Scotland along with their wastrel of a father, they find out that he, yet once more, did something selfish and stupid. Not only has their father forced them into bankruptcy, to the point in which they have to leave London, but now his gaming addiction had him gambling his daughter Eliza as a prize. When one of the biggest rakes in London, Lord Bucksden, comes to claim his winning prize, he doesn't take no for an answer and Cassie ends up hitting him over the head with an urn. Believing him dead, they race towards their Aunt by marriage house in Scotland; accepting her invitation, she hopes that eventually they will be able to go to America, where Roland has some distant relatives. Could things become any worse?

Seeking a new wife, Lucien Hollier has accepted an invitation to his home from his cousin and close friend, Lord Ryecroft. As he scans the room he discovers that the woman he fell in love with six years before is attending as well: Cassandra. Lucien had been one of her suitors during her first season, but after discovering Cassie`s fathers tendencies he simply disappeared, breaking Cassie`s heart in the process. However, to his surprise, his desire for her has not diminished in all these years. He learns that Cassie, just like him, is now a widow.

It has been six years since Cassie last saw and had her dreams shattered by the handsome Lucien. She discovers that Lucien still desires her and it has been too long since his loving arms last held her.

Almost Perfect is the first title by Denise Hampton that I read. This book is her latest published romance and the only one set in the Regency era. I found myself enthralled by the story from the very beginning. Cassie is not the blushing virgin that we are so used to see in a lot of historical romances. A widow, she has also had to deal with the hardships her father`s irresponsible behavior has imposed upon her and her family. Once she came back to her father after becoming a widow, and her mother passed away, she has had to take over and spend a good deal of time covering up for him. Now she sees herself forced yet once again to get her family out of trouble. Lucien, who had married someone else, had been betrayed by his wife. Now a widower, it is time for him to find a new wife to give him an heir. Of course, the last thing he expects is a second chance with Cassie. Filled with a cast of delightful secondary characters that provide the perfect complement to Lucien and Cassie, this nicely paced, well-developed story has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader`s attention from page one. Almost Perfect will definitely appeal to lovers of historical romances and I most certainly intend to read Ms. Hampton`s previous books.

Reviewed in March 2004 by Mireya.

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