Onyx, May 2004, 6.99, 352 pp.
To pay off the medical bills of her deceased spouse thirty nine years old American Tessa Riordan is elated to obtain a job on a reality TV show in London. The $10K compensation will get the genealogical expert out of debt though she frets that her weight will embarrass her when the producer rejects her for being to plump.
Still the “skinny challenged” woman gets the part of the wealthy American marrying an English duke in 1879 for the show “A Month in the Life of a Victorian Duke”. While the corset makes it impossible to breath, Tessa finds herself very attracted to her “husband”, Max Edgerton, who in reality is an architect, and loves his real life daughter, who also appears in the show. To her shock, she believes handsome Max reciprocates though she feels he is commitment shy. In front of an audience Tessa must persuade her duke that he could fall in love with a woman she feels he cannot lift.
This is an enjoyable contemporary romance that places people used to modern conveniences and freedoms into a strict aristocratic environment thirty-five years prior to the liberating of the European masses by World War One events. The story line is fun to follow as an amusing Tessa laughs at her own foibles including some negative bodily exports, but is quite serious when it comes to loving Max and his daughter. Max is a delight as he is ready to lift his beloved to new horizons. Fans will enjoy this entertaining anachronistic look at displacement as the modern crowd struggles with life just over a century ago.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner