Signet, Dec 2003, 6.99, 416 pp.
In 1751 in a remote part of Ireland, Duke John Gunning and Elizabeth Gunning, meeting for the first time, share a Midsummer Night's Dream encounter. Both are attracted to one another, but neither expects an aristocrat and a commoner to run into each other ever again as their circles are quite different.
Elizabeth's pushy mom plans to have both her daughters perform on the stage. She turns to her friend actress Peg Wolffington for help. Peg takes to the two young females and arranges for the three women to see her perform at Dublin Castle. She goes so far as to sham a relationship insisting that the two siblings are daughters of Viscount Mayo, a lord in the most remote isolated part of the country. However, also at the castle is John, whose silence can only be bought with kisses from the real Elizabeth, not the performer.
This is a Georgian Era romance that puts a twist on the taboo of acting by making it an acceptable occupation. Fans of the period will enjoy Virginia Henley's latest tale because as usual the author provides a deep historical piece inside a strong character driven romance.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner