For Coulter's sizable following (The Heiress Bride, etc. etc.): a blast-off for a new Regency trilogy involving romance and a trace of mystery. Josephina, dubbed "Duchess" at an early age because of her cool aloofness--the result of learning, at the age of nine, that she's a bastard--is the by-blow of the Earl of Chase and a lovely mother ensconced in a nearby cottage. Duchess is raised in Chase Park and, after the deaths of her mother and the Earl, spirits herself off with a huge servant named Badger to the cottage, where she supports herself in a mysterious fashion. Meanwhile, the new Earl, Marcus Wyndham, learns--to his horror--that Duchess's father, who married her mother at last, has left all to his daughter, who now has the problem of restoring the inheritance and pride to handsome Marcus. The answer, of course, is to trick him into marriage--and bed. While this venerable and favorite feature of the romantic novel--spouse-seduction--is oozing on, a group of cousins troop in from the Colonies, including vigorous widower Trevor, who, like others in the family, is intrigued by rumors of a buried treasure on the premises. Before that's discovered, though, there'll be some near-fatal attempts on the Duchess's life and an escape from a murderer--who's bound to resurface in future volumes. Coulter seems to have hit a popular vein between the more elegant Regency romances (with period diction) of, say, Patricia Veryan, and the squashiest of the paperback palpitators. A quick circulator.