St. Martin's Sep 2003, 6.50, 384 pp.
The deceased vicar's daughter Emma Fitzgerald detests Lord John Clayton who neglected his responsibilities for a year and has hosted a week of debauchery. Besides changing the manor house into a den of iniquity Emma feels John went to far when he evicts several villagers in arrears on their payments to him. She rips him up and down in front of his older half-brother Ian.
Emma shocks John when she offers her body in payment to pay the debts. He accepts her offer, but she knows by his body language that he does not intend to make her lose her virginity. However, the next day to his horror she shows up. John soon falls in love with Emma and she reciprocates, but he is London hedonist and she is country nurturing.
This is an engaging Regency romance due to the antics of the lead female character; she understands the hierarchy of needs of the locals, herself, and her beloved John. Emma knows that it is vital for people to eat, have shelter feel good about their self worth and to love and be loved. Unlike many people she is willing to do something about achieving all of this for others, for John and for herself. Ian knows John has met his match in the fiery Emma and amusingly observes the antics sort of like George Burns with his close circuit TV set watching the goings-on. Cheryl Holt provides a delectable story that will please sub-genre readers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner