THE MATING DANCE by Rona Randall


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There'll be several turns through the scandals of a late-Victorian London theater company before the good, good lass and the bad, bad girl find appropriate partners in this English author's latest wide-proscenium bustle-rustler. The sweet-youngthing of the tale is dear, illegitimate Lucinda: she's dresser to overbearing actress Bernadette, and she seems incapable of an unkind thought. She also seems rather dim-witted--especially when, at age 16, she consents to marry Gavin, the juvenile lead hi the genteel theater company run by Sir Nevill, Bernadette's classy husband. Gavin, you understand, is quite obviously a cad and a rogue. He's almost as foul, in fact, as the vixen of the tale--Clementine, daughter of Bernadette and Sir Nevill (and, as it turns out, Lucinda's half sister!) Good Lucinda and bad Clementine alternate confessions as they cope with some startling events and unsettling personalities: the attractions and distractions of a stern young doctor and his radical bluestocking sister; the sinister appearance, apparent death, and return of a vice lord; and the death of Sir Nevill, involving plots to acquire his theater. With all this, Lucinda has little leisure to repent of her marriage to Gavin (,Who exploits her in a tawdry road tour) while Clementine, ruthlessly self-serving and sex-hungry, craves and gets the best efforts of a coachman, the doctor, and several gentlemen in an establishment called the Gardens of Babylon. Clementine will have an implausible change-of-heart at the finale, but, with an opulent fringe of convincing period theatrical background, this is cheerful and spicy entertainment from the reliable author of The Eagle at the Gate (1978).

Pub Date: June 26th, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan