Morrow, Jun 2001, 24.00, 352 pp.
The antagonism between the she-lords, Green Tamryn and Claudine D'anbere probably started when they were learning partners as children. Green was an avid student while Claudine enjoyed being mischievous especially if her partner was the recipient of a prank. As adults, Green suffered losses and disasters that she believes Claudine caused but lacks proof. One day she feels she will have what is needed to humiliate her enemy.
The rivalry heats up as Green and Claudine pursue the same male, unconventional Jorlan Raynan as name bearer to produce an heir. Jorlan wants to reject both suitors because he fears marriage means giving up his independence. Green marries Jorlan, but their road to happiness is detoured because of scandal even though a rare love has sprung up in spite of the strict societal rules.
RITUAL OF PROOF is an engaging Regency romantic fantasy that turns the classic roles of the Ton totally around and upside down in a wonderful role reversal. The amusing story line, reminiscent of Travolta's “White Man's Burden but with humor, is fun due to the gender bending and the use of puns on accepted vernacular. The lead couple comes across as real and the secondary cast supplements them in such a manner as to make she-lords feel like the sub-genre norm. Dara Joy lives up to her surname as she provides an entertaining satirical tale that cries for more novels on this reverse Regency world.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner