An author known for his imaginative worldbuilding tackles fantasy Regency romance.
Lady Truthful Newington—“Newt” to friends and family—has never seen the family heirloom, a powerful emerald, she’ll inherit when she’s 25. When her widowed father brings it out to show guests on her 18th birthday, it’s stolen. Headstrong and spirited, Truthful (as she is called in the third-person narration) heads to London to get it back. Strict rules govern aristocratic female behavior, so to facilitate her search she poses as a French male cousin, with the help of her great aunt, Lady Badgery, and a little glamour. Truthful’s disguise brings her under suspicion as one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s secret supporters, who are plotting to free him from imprisonment in Gibraltar. Her ruse also frees her to join forces with the handsome, mysterious Maj. Harnett. Pursuing the powerful, wily enchantress behind the theft, the two are captured and, mostly thanks to Truthful, barely escape drowning. Harnett holds women in low regard but after her true gender’s discovered, concerned for her damaged reputation, reluctantly proposes marriage and is indignantly rejected. After a meandering start, the novel, first published as an e-book in 2013, follows genre conventions dutifully, in characterization (plucky Truthful especially), plot, and setting, its aristocratic milieu bolstered by details of food, entertainment, and female dress.
Slight but entertaining; even hobbled by cautious storytelling, it should satisfy genre fans. (Regency fantasy. 12-15)