From a veteran romancer: Regency intrigue featuring an aristocratic menage Ã trois, modeled on the famous Devonshire/Foster arrangement of the time. Hodge's threesome: the impossibly callous Duke of Cley; his wife's good friend, Frances Winterton; the long-suffering Duchess, whose glooms are relieved considerably by the amorous attentions of younger Charles Mattingley. And the offspring of the titled adultery is Frances' illegitimate, Duke-sired child Caroline--who will be raised by good cleric Trentham (along with his son Giles) and told that her real parents are both dead. But then Caroline starts receiving mysterious visits and packages--and one day is whisked away to live at the grand mansion of the Duke of Cley! Caroline, however, who loves books and writing poetry, is decidedly a disappointment to her glittering parents (still unknown to her as such). The Duke's legit daughters are pills all the way. Gaston (the Duke's by a French maid) hates her. Only the Duke's legit son Blakeney is kind--and so, all unknowing, half-siblings Blakeney and Caroline are about to run off! Snarls ensue, however; Caroline, to escape the unhappy home, marries cleric Geraint Tremadoc, who writes dreadful poetry and turns out to be not only a fool but a sadist. So, while living in remote sheep country with druggy, boozy Tremadoc, Caroline writes his sermons and his now-successful poetry, is liked by the women in the town, and becomes friends with mysterious neighbor John Gerard . . . who will rescue her from the Guy Fawkes Day ""saturnalia."" And finally, after treason, torture, and the colorful mob murder of Tremadoc, widow Caroline meets his publisher (former brother Giles!)--and must be rescued once again by enigmatic John Gerard . . . from a fate worse than death. In spite of all the implausible folderol and the oddly Victorian (non-Regency) aura: lively, galloping romance/adventure indeed, with a dauntless, high-minded heroine.