Leisure, May 2003, 5.99, 333 pp.
In 1807, at his London house, Lord Penworthy informs his visitor Lord Marcus Kane in front of whore Fantine Delarive that someone tried to kill House of Commons MP Wilberforce. Stunned that a vulgar woman would be at their meeting, Marcus is further shocked when his host asks the two guests to work together. Though both agree to perform their patriotic duty Fanny will be paid for her efforts. Marcus, though experienced in espionage in France, needs a guide to work his way through the serpentine slums of the rookeries where the first clues will take the sleuths.
As they work as a team, Marcus realizes that first impressions mean nothing. He sees his partner act very comfortable as a lady attending an aristocratic soiree. Marcus also receives an education into the life of the poor chidlren living and in some cases thieving in London's slums. As the duo's efforts lead to danger, they fall in love. Marcus desperately tries to persuade Fantine that they belong together, but she worries that her beloved blue blood could never accept her work on behalf of the impoverished children.
This engaging Regency romance provides readers with an insightful look at a way of life just a short distance from the typical Ton that star in the sub-genre novels. That absorbing glimpse provides a host of characters some nameless that enables the audience to better understand the cheeky heroine. Perhaps Fantine adapts to easily to everything like a chameleon (who is the real Fanny?), but fans will appreciate this feisty woman and the metamorphosis of Marcus who recognizes what a treasure she is.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner