Avon, Nov 2002, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1892, English expatriate Stuart Aysgarth is living in Russia when he belatedly received the telegram informing him that his father died and he was now a viscount with a wealthy estate. The next telegram stated that his Uncle Leonard insisted Stuart was dead, claiming the estates as his, and raided them. Stuart worries mostly about a statue. When he arrives his fears prove real, as all he sees is the empty niche in the wall.
Stuart driving his coach at breakneck speed runs over a lamb belonging to Emma Hitchhikes. She demands remittance, but he refuses so she moves his money from his account to hers, but he catches her. Stuart blackmails Emma into helping him regain some of the items, especially that statue that his uncle stole. As they work a sting together, Stuart and Emma fall in love, but though quite avaricious, Leonard is not going to go away quietly.
The key to the strong Victorian romance, UNTIE MY HEART, is the ability of Judith Ivory to persuade readers of a relationship between the aristocratic Stuart and the sheep farmer Emma at a time where social classes still ran in different circles. The story line is amusing, sensual, but filled with suspense on two levels. Will Stuart and Emma untie each other's heart and will the sting succeed. Though Leonard is too greedy to take seriously, fans will take pleasure from this astonishingly good late nineteenth century historical.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner