by Joy Reed

March 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-7231-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

You’ve got to love a book that has the heroine using the Second Punic War as a metaphor for her romantic entanglements. That in itself is enough to make me smile - I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Miss Elizabeth Watson, unashamed bluestocking that she is. And I also loved Julius, Lord Atwater, a charmingly whimsical person. It isn’t often that we get to read stories where a good-natured hero pursues a serious minded young lady, and the change was refreshing.

Elizabeth is a scholar, and carries on her late father’s work by writing a book on the Second Punic War – a very impressive task that inspires an eccentric old man to will her his fortune. Since her family is in debt, Elizabeth couldn’t be happier, though she has serious reservations about the money and actually wants to refuse the windfall. But the…difficult…relatives of the late Mr. Atwater quickly make her change her mind, and she decides to not only keep the money, but live in style as well. The Atwaters - well, two of them - are determined to have the money and set about trying to make her life miserable. They fail, of course - Elizabeth has spent her life studying Hannibal the great general, and outwitting her is a serious undertaking - but Julius is caught in the middle. He has no need of the fortune and is embarrassed by his relatives, but Elizabeth refuses to believe his innocence and does her best to keep him at a distance — until he kisses her that is!

As much as I like Julius, there is a lingering sense that he is far outmatched by Elizabeth, perhaps because they interact so rarely that he is only a part of her schemes once they are already over. Maybe if he had outwitted her at least once, or just taught her a little whimsy…. In any case, I absolutely loved the introductory description of him through his aunt’s eyes (page 37 for those of you who are interested!) and was rooting for him through the rest of the book. And I wouldn’t have Elizabeth’s intelligence lessened to any degree, she’s more than fine as she is. Overall, the book was cute and fun and I gladly recommend it to others.

Reviewed in May 2002 by Wendy B..

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