Leisure, Feb 2004, 5.99, 352 pp.
In the village of Far Caister, Sebastian Alexander spent his early life as the spare. However, over a decade ago his oldest brother died making the middle son Andrew the heir and Sebastian the prime spare. Still as expected of a third born aristocratic son, Sebastian joined the Royal navy in the war with Napoleon. In 1811 his father and his sibling die not long apart. Sebastian inherits the title to Pennhyll Castle.
As Sebastian heals from a near death war wound he plans to do his duty by marrying and siring the heir and a spare. However, most important immediately is to learn what happened to Andrew as the new lord believes someone murdered his brother. He plans to start his inquiries with Olivia Willow who has survived tragedy twice. Her father and brother died in a carriage accident that also crippled her mother and she was thought dead when his brother and sister-in-law died. However, Olivia insists she remembers nothing about what happened on that fatal day. Sebastian begins to fall in love with her, but wonders if he is besotted with a serial killer?
Though the who-done-it remains too much in the background, fans will enjoy this entertaining Regency romantic suspense. Sebastian is a delightful lead protagonist who is obsessed with learning the truth. Olivia is the classic female sub-genre character struggling with tragedies and poverty though the amnesia is too convenient of a gimmick. Still fans will find THE SPARE is a fine jewel of a tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner