Considerate as always to the readers of her matinee series about long-ago English ladies, Carr quickly fills in the background from previous books and moves on to the 1715-1745 story of Clarissa Hessenfield. Clarissa, as readers of Song of the Siren (1980) will remember, is the illegitimate offspring of Jacobite Lord Hessenfield and lovely Carlotta, now both dead in France. So orphan Clarissa has been rescued from the Paris slums by Carlotta's nice sister Dameris (wife of Jeremy Granthorn) and is now back in northern England, where a nest of Jacobites seethes--including Paul Hessenfield, Clarissa's paternal uncle. At Paul's ancestral home, Clarissa meets pretty AimÃ‰e, who claims to be Clarissa's also-illegitimate, elder half-sister. Worse yet, Jacobite political/military action heats up, Clarissa is captured and accused of being a spy--but she's rescued by young Dickon Fenshaw, whose love for Clarissa will never waver during years of political exile in Virginia. Clarissa will, however, marry Sir Lance Clavering, a handsome and kind compulsive gambler whom she will save from ruin by holding back her fortune from the South Sea investment debacle. And through it all Sabrina--orphan of Dameris and Jeremy (who die tragic deaths)--will be Clarissa's much-needed loyal friend, especially when the household expands with the arrival of AimÃ‰e, baby Jean-Louis, and AimÃ‰e's chatty mother, Mme. Legrand. Eventually, then, strange things are happening: the disappearance of Jeanne, the faithful maid who tended Clarissa in Paris; ancestral jewelry lost and found; a hint of poisoning; a near-fatal assault on Clarissa. (Any gothic-schooled reader can immediately make the collar.) And finally Clarissa, widowed, sees her only child Zipporah married to Jean-Louis. . . when who should sail in from across the seas but Dickon, though Clarissa may now be too long in the tooth to get him back. . . . Stay tuned for next-generation developments--from an expert at soothing entertainments.