A curtain call for Veryan's Sanguinet series (Sanguinet's Crown, 1985, etc.), which, like her Golden Chronicles and Jeweled Man sagas, are Georgian/Regency-period adventures with various dastardly groups threatening to subvert the English government. Here, a battle-scarred, oddly magnetic veteran of the Sanguinet conflicts arrives in the country to outwit enemies and win a lady. Marietta Washington and elder sister Fanny are pretty, sharp-witted, but impoverished, thanks to the gambling forays of their weak but goodhearted widower father, Sir Lionel. Also at home, in addition to younger brother Arthur, is Aunt Dova, an eerie but lovable bird who converses with lifelike dolls and, in disguise, tells fortunes, having been blessed with ``A Mystical Window Through Time.'' The Warrington house is part of the estate of Lanterns, owned by the ever-absent Lord Temple, and is rumored to be haunted and to contain a fabled, priceless jewel, ``The Sigh of Saladin.'' Suddenly arriving to camp out in Lanterns is the polite but evasive Diecon, a retired Major who becomes Arthur's idol. Marietta, puzzled, is drawn to Diecon—but is he really just a free-spirited ex-soldier? What explains his brilliance at the violin? Meanwhile, Marietta is courted by the handsome, supposedly wealthy Blake, whose relationship to Diecon, when revealed, makes for an unpleasant surprise. Before Diecon's real identity is revealed and Blake vanquished, Diecon and Marietta deal with the tragedy of Marietta's brother Eric, involved in treason; Diecon's friend Joselyn courts Fanny; and there is a return of the terrifying Sanguinet mob (Claude S., the leader, is now deceased) involving a kidnapping and a grand showdown in Lanterns. The villains are vanquished, the Sigh of Saladin makes an appearance, and true lovers are united. Reliable Veryan, mixing romance, humor, light mystery, and a satisfyingly noisy finish with just enough touches of period diction and mores to add the right Regency flavor.
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