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A modest, charming Regency novel, a model of post-Heyer romance--with the genre's quips and cranks easily assimilated rather than peppered at random; a plethora of amiable-to-amusing characters; and a likable heroine whose inevitable transformation from frump to ""toast"" is accomplished in leisurely stages. Davina Wakeford's scholar/bibliophile father has left the bulk of his ancestral estate to his daughter, including the prize of his collection--the Rigborough Missal. But books are the only treasure within the icy halls of Wakeford, and Davina is faced with the dismaying prospect of selling the Missal. Wakeford's neighboring estate, although prospering, thanks to the management of Davina's stolid suitor Edward Clare--cousin to the current (but absent) Lord Rigg--is also under a cloud. Edward, his elder brother shifty Jocelyn, and the beauteous Annabel, widow of Talbott (the former Lord Rigg) are all dreading--with good and various reasons--the return of notorious Lucas, brother of Talbott, who, it is generally believed, fatally shot the latter. Davina does briefly contemplate marriage to Edward, but her pretty aunt, Lady Sophia, shuddering at the reputation of their neighbors, contrives to insist that Davina and her household--whiny stepmama Eulalie, her spoiled son Ronald and duck-brained nephew Mortimer--leave for the Season in London. The first meeting between Davina--mud-splattered and discussing drains--and Lucas is not a success. ""A bookish, draggled article,"" Lucas decides. However, the two Society-disdaining minds will meet and love will blossom. Before the twining of destinies, there'll be a strenuous Season, some fancy villainy and some blackmail (the family lawyer, usually a Regency stick, will flower here), and the theft of the Missal. This is the first Regency by the author of several thrillers, and a happy-hearted, glittering with routs and squeezes, family fusses, and light-tempered romance it is.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles