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The sixth and last flash from the author's Georgian-period Jewelled Men series (Never Doubt I Love, p. 102, etc.)--light, romantic adventures featuring classy toffs, foxy villains, and spunky ladies. This time out, Veryan's most fiery hero, Lieutenant August Falcon, brings the nasties to bay. The tale lumbers slowly at first, with chunks of information about the evil work of the Jewelled Men (that power elite plotting against England's crown) and about the previous triumphs in love and war of Falcon's companions from the five earlier installments. The story here, though, picks up with a clandestine meeting of masked League members led by ""the Squire"" in an abandoned dungeon, a place with an unpleasant room bustling with rats. Meanwhile, the handsome, red-tempered Falcon--tolerated by the ton because of his wealth and looks, despite his grandmother's marrying a Chinese aristocrat (hence the nickname ""Mandarin"")--snarls around his elegant aerie, sleuthing and being uncommonly ferocious with suitors of his beautiful sister, Katrina. She's fallen in love with nice Jamie, an anti-League comrade whom Falcon can't stand. And Falcon is too proud to admit to loving Katrina's lame friend Gwendolyn, sister of Gideon Rossiter (Time's Fool, 1991). So the League spreads and oozes over England, snagging noble houses, cargos, and then Falcon himself. First, he's drugged and apparently kills Jamie; then, in horror, a humbled Falcon is off in pursuit of the League, unmasking some familiar faces and eventually being popped into ratsville. There's a last-minute rescue, but the Squire will strike again before finally being frog-marched to the Tower. Finally, it's royal honors for all the good chaps--and love for Falcon, who by now, to the relief of all, has reverted to his old, arrogant, short-fused self. Essential to series followers; newcomers might prefer to drop in on the Jewelled Men and their sterling foes in the earlier novels.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's