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With more bounce than Brown's last (Come Be My Love, 1981), this messy, coincidence-clogged, but genial romantic-adventure features a most reluctant hero of Waterloo and a severe young widow who just won't discard her weeds. Mrs. Penelope Bransom, whose devotion to her late husband Josiah is awesome in display and length, accompanies pretty unmarried sister Missy to the London home of friend Lady Halstead--and soon meets Waterloo hero Lord Charles Mortimer, who's busy re-wooing old flame Lady Georgina Staverton. (Their chance encounter--the first of several--occurs while do-gooder Penelope is struggling with a Cockney boor who's been beating his young daughter.) And, though Penelope's stand-offish with Mortimer, he obviously has gotten to her psyche: she's promptly having nightmares about the sexual brutality of departed Josiah--a crass old gent who berated Penelope for being barren, flaunted his illegitimate offspring, and left a will that forces Penelope to stay in mourning if she wants her allowance (which she nobly passes on to Josiah's by-blows). Then, while Mortimer hovers nearer, and Penelope effects a satisfying new life for that Cockney waif, other unpleasant males intrude: Josiah's horrid nephew Edward courts Missy; Penelope, thanks to Edward, is almost ruined by a degenerate (Mortimer predictably pops up for a rescue); and she's about to put herself in a deadly marriage bind with Samuel Trueblood, Mortimer's enemy, when she finds that she's preggers by Mortimer. (Yes, there's that fecund idyll.) But Penelope does not tell Mortimer about the baby. Why not? Because he apparently still loves Georgina. And much sputtering and untangling ensues. Still, despite the contrived plotting: reasonably engaging chat, a blither of happy endings, and modest romance/melodrama diversion.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's