Mira, May 2003, 6.50, 400 pp.
In 1802 Verity Collier accepts a position as governess to seven-year-old twins Meliora and Bastian though she has no previous experience with this work. Because the position is in remote Cornwall, the father Lord Jago Ransleigh, has no other takers. For Verity, the position enables her to escape working at a suffocating school.
On the trek to St. Aubyn, highwayman Black Jack Raven holds up the carriage containing Verity. She courageously persuades him not to take a family locket from her, but he imitates Sheridan by stealing a locket of her hair. At the manor, Verity finds she likes the reticent children still struggling with the death of their mother in an accident two years ago. When she meets the Earl, who is always away from the estate on War Office business, she thinks he is also Black Jack. Trying to learn the truth places her in danger of the body and the heart as she quickly falls in love with her employer.
This delightful Regency romantic suspense borrows heavily from the gothic crowd. Verity lives up to her name, but is also brave (no Rape of the Lock will stop her) and serves as the right role model for two lost little children. Readers will feel for the twins, but especially Bastian (try getting more than a nod out of him). Rebecca Brandewyne shows why she is so highly regarded with this strong historical intrigue.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner