Here’s the premise: Alistair, the Marquis of Yarrowton and Miss Letitia Gough-Dane have been destined for each other for years, since she was a baby, in fact, introduced to the Eton schoolboy as his prospective bride. He has fond memories of the wild child Letty growing up, so when he meets her again for the first time in years and finds he still likes her, he offers and she accepts. At which point she turns into an ice maiden – very correct, very civil but distinctly chilly. Mystified, he determines to find out the reason for her behaviour – has she taken him in dislike? Is she being pushed into marriage? But he gets nowhere, until a chance curricle accident leaves them stranded at a country inn overnight.
At this point, the story veers sharply into Georgette Heyer territory, with the appearance of a charmingly pretty ingenue, an irate lover and a bottle of brandy. It’s all very funny, but resolves rather neatly, the characters are both believable and likable (the marquis is a bit of a charmer) and really my only complaint is that it’s far too short (I read it in not much above an hour). But it’s beautifully written, with an elegant use of language and a very convincing grasp of the Regency. I would very much like to see a full length work by this author.
So what’s so different about it? Only that the author published four other books at the same time as this one. This is a more or less traditional Regency, with no more than a bit of mild kissing and some lusting, with a fade to black on the only sex scene. There’s even a classically traditional cover, very tasteful. The other books are billed as erotic tales of the Ottoman Empire, a genre that could hardly be more different. I commend the author’s versatility, but it’s an uneasy mixture. I don’t know what the erotica is like, but if she chooses to focus on the Regencies, she definitely has a future there. Four stars.