by Joye Ames

June 2002
ISBN: 0-8034-9537-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Avalon Books
Mass Market Paperback

Louisa, Duchess of Osbourne has a problem. (Actually she has several problems, but we must first address the one in the story!) Her dear niece is being forced into an appalling marriage, and has fled to her young aunt’s estate for sanctuary. Louisa realizes that the teenaged Beth needs to have a Season and make her own choice, and who better to accomplish this than the “elderly” Louisa Osbourne!

Lord Devon Stanton has glimpsed paradise in the eyes of the attractive young Duchess, but his pursuit is stymied when she apparently “disappears”, only to be replaced by the older woman, who chaperones Beth through the exciting round of balls and parties!

On the face of it, this is a delightful Regency romance, featuring wonderfully written characters. Louisa is strong and mature in her behavior, even while fighting her attraction to Devon. Beth is the typical young debutante, flighty, giggly and falling for quite the wrong man. And then there is Devon, staunchly persuaded that “his” Louisa is still in town, and persistently haunting the ladies until his questions are answered.

So what are the other problems Louisa faces? Well, the author has asked something very difficult of us Regency fans – we must suspend our knowledge of the Ton, and accept that Louisa has inherited the title of Duchess from her deceased father, the Duke of Osbourne. Those of us whose reading habits routinely take us to Regency London know that this is a complete impossibility. It is, sadly, an insurmountable plot flaw, compounded by a couple of others involving Louisa’s brother Michael and his refusal of the Dukedom.

It is a shame that such delightful characters and such a charming story has been compromised by major historical inaccuracies; especially in this day and age when a morning spent on the Internet will provide any interested party with more information on the British peerage system than anyone would ever need to know!!

If you’re a Barbara Cartland fan, and in a forgiving mood, you might enjoy this book, but I would not recommend it to the dedicated Regency romance reader.

Reviewed in April 2002 by Celia.

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