Avon, Mar 2003, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1806 Madeline de Lacey returns to England after four years overseas to escape what she perceived was the betrayal of the man she loved, Gabriel Ansell. When Madeline learned Gabriel gambled, something she abhors due to her chronically playing father, she felt her fiancé stabbed her in the back. Now she is back, but learns her dad did it again. He lost the estate and her playing piquet. She is stunned to find out she is the fiancée of Remington Knight.
Instead of meeting with Remington, Madeline has to keep her father from joining the game of the century. She pretends to be her companion Eleanor, who she sends to London as her to meet with Remington. At Mr. Rumbelow's estate where the game will be held, Madeline runs into Gabriel, who treats her with disdain even though he knows he still loves her and she loves him too, but his gambling remains a wedge between them.
This is an engaging regency romance that works on several levels as reader obtain a taste of an era in which women are “assets” of a man and gambling can ruin a family. The story line is action packed and the tension between the lead couple is taut though why she slept with him after she dropped him four years ago lessens Madeline, a strong protagonist otherwise. Christina Dodd provides an insightful tale that fans will enjoy as it showcases social issues of then and now.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner