Rayner's seven-novel Lackland series has been gentled a bit since two 18th-century street hellions launched the dynasty and its tradition of theater and medicine in London and environs. Now, in the 1870s, Sophia Lackland (daughter of that charming ne'er-do-well Bartholomew) is a Yorkshire lass and a devoted apprentice to the local doctor who has fired her desire to become a surgeon. A muddled will from a relative Sophia had never met insists that Bartholomew's offspring, the legatee, be a surgeon--and female Sophia is determined to storm the male bastion of medicine. With the help of London friends and relations--a grainy aunt, a doctor cousin whose help is fired by more than a professional regard, and a militant pioneering female physician--Sophia, after many setbacks, is at last a proper doctor. En route, her attraction to Gil Stacy, a handsome dancer in the theater, swerves her toward marriage and possibly an affair; but good hometown boy Wilfred turns up in the nick of time, and a saner, tougher Sophia returns to the Yorkshire village for her career. . . and Wilfred. Rayner does not crowd the premises with a host of intermingled relatives and generations--don't be put off by the mammoth genealogical table in the frontispiece--and her interest in medical matters is genuine. This is the sort of family dynasty series one can drop in on at any point, so if you haven't had your fill of Victorian lasses burning to be doctors (a recent preoccupation in romance-historicals), come along with reliable Rayner.