by Diane Gaston

July 2004
ISBN: 0-26383968-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Mills & Boon #893
Mass Market Paperback

How many of us who donít live in the UK go out of their way to purchase a Mills & Boon release? Not many Iíd assume. The Mysterious Miss M is one book worth the hassle and the money!

The Mysterious Miss M is dressed as a young debutante waiting for her admirers. Her attending suitors are those who have won her favors in a game of cards. Too young to have known better, Miss Madeline led herself be seduced by one of her fatherís associates, Lord Farley. Ruined, he takes her to London to whore for him. Ashamed of her behavior and with no means for escape she endures her situation. She is trained, but has no liking for the act. Until Lieutenant Devlin Steele enters her room and charms her with his caring nature, his patriotic passion, his easy humor. After he leaves and returns to battle she vows never to forget him.

Three years later, Lieutenant Devlin Steel has returned to England. Injured at Waterloo, battling nightmares of death and destruction, he spends his time gambling away his small allowance. A winning streak at Farleyís and he is compelled to save the Mysterious Miss M, his Miss England, along with her maid and her young daughter Linette. To Maddyís surprise he doesnít toss them out. Instead he looks for bigger lodgings to accommodate his charges. Relieved and grateful to leave Lord Farley and her situation behind, she is dismayed when Devlin refuses to let her pay him back with the only service she knows how.

Lord Devlin is an honorable man, a man to relish his new responsibilities, the chance to turn his back on his destructive leisure pursuits and to exchange it for a worthy cause. Providing a secure home for Maddy and her little daughter Linette is all that counts. Saving his Miss England becomes as important as defending his country against Napoleon. She is the one to hold at bay his nightmares. However his allowance is too small to purchase the necessary items for a comfortable life and to inherit his fortune he needs to wed a suitable wife.

Donít expect the usual fluff and humorous banter from this Regency era romance. Courtship rituals with its many dances, visits and expected niceties are only attended to by Devlin to reluctantly search for a bride. His heart though is with Maddy, Maddy who struggles with self-doubts of being of any use to her Knight In Shinning Armor, her hero. Maddy is not a heroine to easily identify with, but one canít help care for her and admire her efforts to improve her survival skills. How her character develops over the course of the story is so convincing and believable that it comes as no surprise when she is all strength and determination at the end.

Diane Gaston has superbly blended the growing relationship between Maddy and Devlin and detailed research of the Regency eraís societyís regulations, customs and rules - providing intriguing details and sound research Ė to craft a remarkable story. Strongly drawn characters prove to be irresistible and leave the reader riveted to the pages.

The Mysterious Miss M is a treat and so it is important to note that this author also writes under the name of Diane Perkins for Warner. If Diane Gaston/Perkins upcoming releases continue to be just as rewarding and mesmerizing, poignant and strong as her first one than I wonít want to miss any of them.

If you canít find a way to get your hands on The Mysterious Miss M through or the Mills & Boon UK site than bookmark Diane Perkins/Gastonís site to keep informed of future US releases.

Reviewed in June 2004 by Kris Alice.

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