by Blair Bancroft

July 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21006-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Blair Bancroft does it again! Bringing her literary skills once more to the Regency world, Ms. Bancroft has written a wonderful story that will please romance fans. And once again, she has offered us a tale rich with Regency settings, but unique in characters and plot. Certainly, it’s unmistakably the early 1800’s. Celebrities of the day, like Byron, Lord Elgin, Lady Caroline Lamb and even Aimee de Rivery, make appearances - names familiar to Regency readers everywhere. But if you’re expecting the “usual” Regency tale…you’re in for a surprise.

With her adept talents, Ms. Bancroft has once again created a unique heroine, Penelope Blayne, who has experienced more in her twenty-six years than any one young woman has a right to! Those experiences include a teenage marriage to Jason Lisbourne, the Earl of Rocksley. As in her previous novels, Blair Bancroft has this woman jumping from the pages and into the reader’s imagination - coming alive, sharing her emotions and her travails as she battles her past and yearns to achieve the future of her dreams.

It’s an unusual tale, and yes - a harem is involved. Penelope becomes a bride, but not a wife! I would rather encourage readers to find out for themselves how this happens - since giving too much away here would, in my opinion, spoil the plot a little. Suffice it to say that Jason and Penny have their work cut out for them, often hindered by the gossip-ridden culture of the Regency.

I simply cannot say enough about my admiration for Ms. Bancroft’s ability to write unique Regency romances. This is a very popular genre, but it has often suffered from the limitations of its time - it was really only about twenty years or so in British history. Most stories are fundamentally the same, sharing the London of that period that we have come to know and love. Ms. Bancroft turns her back on the routine. She disdains the Ton, ignores Almacks, and instead gives us real people, real adventures, unlikely marriages and interestingly human emotions. The Regency comes to life under the skilled hands of this visionary writer. Bravo Ms. Bancroft for not being afraid to shake the genre up a bit - I think the Prince Regent himself would have applauded your daring.

Reviewed in July 2004 by Celia.

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