by Barbara Metzger

September 2005
ISBN: 0-451-21626-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

Alexander Chalfont Endicott, the Earl of Carde, watched his father die, too young, from a lung inflammation. The elder Earl had rushed to the scene of a carriage accident that claimed his young wife, and Alex’s infant stepsister, Lottie. After spending countless hours searching for his missing child, he was forced to his bed. Alex and his brother Jack were brought home to see their father for the last time. They made a pledge to continue the search for Lottie when they were able.

Now that he is 27 and has sowed his wild oats, “Ace” decides it is time to wed. Jack is off with Wellington playing soldier, and may never return. He is completely amazed that what seemed so simple has become a convoluted exercise. His mistress thinks to marry him, his neighbor’s daughter thinks they have a childhood arrangement, and the ice-cold daughter of a duke has decided that he will make the perfect husband. Alex does what any red-blooded man would do - he flees London.

Realizing that he has been remiss in searching for Lottie, Alex heads for the coast where his stepmother was killed. Eager to speak with her family, he requests a meeting with Lisbeth’s cousin Phelan. Instead of answers, all Alex gets is the run-around when Phelan is urgently called away on “business.” Alex must make due with Aunt Hazel, who speaks to ghosts, and little sister Nell, who has grown into a lovely young woman in the years since her cousin was wed to Alex’s father.

Nell can still see the gentle boy lurking in Alex’s eyes, even as he is set upon by her guardian goose. He is noble and kind, suffering injury on her behalf. When Nell discovers that she knows his fiancé, she immediately invites Lady Lucinda and her father to visit. Having his betrothed nearby will certainly aid his recovery.

Ace of Hearts is a lively romp of a novel. From the marriage-minded misses at Almack’s to the rustic confines of Nell’s cottage, readers can delight in this wide array of characters. There is something for everyone in this novel, and there is plenty left for the next two books in the series.

Reviewed in November 2005 by Paula.

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