Avon, Aug 2003, 5.99, 384 pp.
In 1801 Lord Anthony Morehouse wins a curricle race against Lord Reginald D'Aubney that provides the victor with what he thought was a piece of furniture. Instead, as all their peers laugh, Tony learns that “The Ladies Fashionable Cabinet” is not a bureau or a wardrobe, but instead is a woman's magazine that he won from a side bet with Victor Croyden.
Unlike Reginald who owns numerous publications, Tony has never been involved with the printed word. He plans to sell the magazine as soon as possible. He visits the office of “The Ladies Fashionable Cabinet” only to find his childhood rival, Victor's niece, Edwina Parrish as the editor. Tony still remembers losing every sporting contest especially races to Edwina, but the one that still smarts is when she defeated him in a steeplechase race in which she won the Minerva bust. He offers her a bet that if she raises the subscriptions to an agreed upon number, she wins the magazine, but if she fails to achieve the target he gets back Minerva.
Because of the uniqueness of the heroine, readers receive a fabulous Regency romance that will make Candice Hern a major force within the sub-genre. The story line is somewhat light yet provides mini lights on serious issues of the times. Tony is a hunk who learns that his first apparent victory is bitter as the stake proves more than he can afford. ONCE A SCOUNDREL is a terrific historical that will provide plenty of pleasure to fans.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner