LOVE MASQUE by Caroline Campbell


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A lighthearted, literate, but grindingly static Regency romance--with the fated-for-each-other lovers kept apart by obstacles that are unusually unconvincing, even by genre standards. Caitlin Deverell, a young bluestocking with a matchmaking Grandmama, escapes to London for a visit with her chum Theodosia Larch, wife of antiquarian scholar Austin. But romance promptly surfaces when the Larches' first dinner guest turns out to be Lord Reighfort, who some years back declined to go through with an arranged marriage to Caitlin. . . because Caitlin's scapegrace cousin Benedict was playing fast and loose with Reighfort's sister. Now, therefore, Caitlin and Reighfort (though both are obviously smitten) manage to offend each other about the family feud; foul Benedict starts interfering again, trying to re-seduce Reighfort's sister (now wed); Reighfort has a mysteriously violent reaction when he learns that Caitlin is writing her family's history. And the predictable love/hate tangle escalates to a Reighfort/Benedict duel challenge. . . as a creaky subplot centers on scholar Austin's odd behavior concerning an antiquarian mask. (The final revelations include fraud, secret authorship, Grandmama's scandalous past, and a tad of blackmail.) Unfortunately, first-novelist Campbell fails to inject any real mystery or suspense into this familiar melange; and the straining for wit and high-toned allusiveness pays off only very occasionally. Still: pleasantly passable fare for Regency regulars.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1982
Publisher: Walker