by Barbara Metzger

March 2006
ISBN: 0-451-21805-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Signet Books
Mass Market Paperback

In the second House of Cards novel, author Barbara Metzger continues the search for Charlotte Endicott in a very unique way. Jonathan “Jack” Endicott, safely returned from the war, has sold his commission and taken up the quest. Armed with the knowledge that his sister was last seen in the company of a theatre seamstress, Jack decided that he should tarnish his respectability and mingle with the demimonde. He opens a gaming hall. Not just any gaming hall, but one where all of the dealers are young women.

Little does he know that his life is about to turn upside down.

Picture in your mind, dear readers, little Margaret from the Dennis the Menace comic strip.....take away the glasses, add a frightful disposition and a penchant for trouble. You now have before you one Harriet Hildebrand. She may only be eight years old, but mayhem is her shadow and havoc is her middle name. Her mother was murdered and her father went off to war, leaving Harriet in the care of her grandparents - who shipped her off to school. Captain Hildebrand was a casualty in the war, and unfortunately, the school had a fire......

Miss Allison Silver has the dubious task of escorting Harriet to her grandparents in London. The trip has not been pleasant. They discover that Lord Hildebrand has died and his wife is ensconced in a Bath asylum. There is no provision for Harriet’s care beyond her school tuition, which went up in smoke. The family solicitor, eager to foist the little darling off on someone else, makes an outrageous connection to Captain Hildebrand’s friend, fellow officer Jonathan Endicott. With the Earl of Carde as his brother, the lawyer is certain that Jonathan will accept Harriet as his ward.

So the stage is set - a devil-may-care rogue running a gaming hall, a stiff-spined schoolteacher and a red-headed hellion collide with delightful results in Jack of Clubs. The story is fast-paced and the timing is keen. Ms. Metzger has sharpened her quill to create a solid witty book that could easily have turned into a monumental farce. Her skill as an author prevents this from happening, and the result is charming.

Reviewed in February 2006 by Paula.

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