Avon, May 2002, 7.50, 432 pp.
After eight years of dire financial straits caused by his deceased father, Viscount Luc Ashford is wealthy. Successfully steering his family through the great debts, he allows himself a night of drinking to celebrate. When he tumbles home, Lady Amelia Cynster accosts him with a proposition that they marry and he use her large dowry to pay off his no longer existing debts. Perhaps it is the marriage of his best friend to Amelia's twin that encourages him (see ON A WICKED NIGHT) and though he has the income to pay his bills, Luc finds the idea of Amelia as his bride quite appealing. He accepts before falling drunkenly unconscious at her feet.
However, Luc insists on a proper courtship, which Amelia acquiesces to even as she tries seducing him. Waiting becomes agony, as Luc wants Amelia as much as she desires him. When they finally marry, passion is their middle names until someone steals items from their home. The theft causes Luc to worry how his beloved Amelia will react when she learns why he married her is not the reason she believes.
The ninth Cynster novel is an enjoyable Regency romance starring two likable lead characters spending much of the book hiding their love for one another when they are not gazing or kissing. The well-written story line focuses on these delightful protagonists whereas a subplot involving a mystery augments their tale with unnecessary suspense. Though nothing new is added to the Cynster universe, fans of the series and Regency tales in general will enjoy Stephanie Laurens' latest historical.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner