Blair Bancroft takes the Regency and makes it shine with a luster that has little to do with the traditional misses, muslins and rogues. Her previous novels have been unafraid to travel far from London's privileged and hallowed homes, and in The Lady and the Cit, she continues this tradition, to her readers' delight.
Although the plot is familiar - an heiress left to the not-so-tender mercies of a truly awful guardian - the characters are not. Aurelia Trevor has inherited Pevensey Park upon the death of her father, but - the way of the enlightened Regency world - is forced to accept male guardianship along with it. In this case her inept uncle.
Ms. Bancroft does an outstanding job of illustrating the frustration and confusion that must have been the lot of every intelligent woman faced with this situation, and we feel for Aurelia, cheering when she takes matters into her own hands. Of course, she needs a husband. And she finds one prepared to accept a marriage as a business deal when she meets one Thomas Lanning, financial whiz, but landless cit along with it.
At this point, the story moves along generally predictable lines, yet the characters of Thomas and Aurelia keep us readers riveted. Aurelia reveals her strengths, and her weaknesses, and Thomas learns to loosen some of his own inhibitions. Set against a backdrop of rural politics (and a fascinating look at the early world of "buying" votes) this is a story that entrances, enlightens and endears.
Congratulations, Ms. Bancroft. A delightful read for all Regency fans, and yet another winner to be added to those you have already penned.