FAIR GAME by Daisy Vivian


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In Rose White, Rose Red (1983), real personages popped up, sometimes sans halos (a boring Dr. Samuel Johnson: a Prince Charlie who was hardly Bonnie), and in this Regency, the rotund Prince of Wales (the future George IV) and his inamorata, Mrs. Fitzherbert, appear amid the ructions and romance of a group of sports, spoilers and suitors in a resort spa featuring odorous waters and jolly gossip. Handsome Lady Augusta Mabyn of Pentreath Manor, widowed and impoverished, thanks to the extravagances of her late brother, has undertaken the preparation of her two nieces for the marriage mart. However, Countess Lavinia, a breezy hounds-and-horse lass, has naught but her title as a dowry: and stunning sister Barbara is nut, well, ""clever."" But, resists Lady Augusta, Barbara must have a lord. ""It would be so awkward otherwise."" Augusta plans to save her ""poor penniless girls""--by running a gaming house. Predictably. there are horror-struck responses from such as a lovelorn lawyer, a rampaging vicar, and Branston (a Jeeves forerunner of impeccable judgment). So it's off to Cheyne Spa, whose shady M.C. is heavily trussed and painted Beau Carlyle, the very man, Lady Augusta thinks, for a partner. Also arriving in Cheyne Spa: the widowed Duke of Towan, a catch, adored by Barbara. titillated by lively Lady A., and feared (with good reason) by the Beau; Lady Christabel, Lady Augusta's snappish cousin, and her brood of four susceptible young; and the ""Royal Wretch"" who comes panting after Mrs. Fitzherbert, for whom the Duke undertakes a delicate mission. Lady Augusta will suffer a visit from the Prince--a charmer and cunning as a weasel. Young folk--and a brace of elders--pair off, one disastrously: there's intrigue and the slap of cards: and at the close. a shocking conjunction of royals--while the Beau beats it out of town. A smart, brisk Regency, brought off with a tight hand and a touch of class.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1985
Publisher: Walker