Mira, Mar 2004, 6.99, 400 pp.
Lord John Elliot knows that he and his six year old second cousin Chloe are lucky to be alive unlike the misfortunate little girl's parents. Wealthy elderly merchant Bernard Leggit arranged for them to die. Only the intercession of a smuggler Albert Parker, who placed the pair inside a coffin, saved them from death. That followed up by Albert's beloved Snowdrop's actions got Chloe and “Uncle” John past their killers.
John takes up residency at a family estate in Bath. He plans revenge via seducing Bernard's young trophy wife Hattie. However, after meeting her, instead of using the young lady, he finds himself quite attracted to her especially when John sees how crass and verbally abusive Bernard is to his spouse. Soon John falls in love with Hattie and she reciprocates, but she belongs to the odious Bernard who would never allow any of his possessions to get away from him.
Though Bernard is too nasty and too obsessed as the villain, Regency romance fans will welcome this delightful tale due to several wonderful characters. The lead couple makes the tale hum as he realizes that the pawn in his quest for vengeance has become his most cherished beloved and she understands the mistakes she made by acting alone against her spouse (for a change the parents are not held culpable though they arranged the match). Little silent Chloe adds an element of empathy so that the audience hopes for what seems the impossible: that of the lead couple together with Chloe forever.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner