The fabulous Michelle Martin delivers another strikingly original Regency love story to tickle our fancy.

Consider the plight of John Rawlins, unacknowledged son of a haughty duke. Neither fish nor fowl, he is caught between the servant class background of his mother and the high society world of his father. Only on the battlefields of the Peninsula and in the company of a few close friends from school does he find any kind of acceptance.

It is his loyalty to those friends that leads him to masquerade as his best friend Lyleton's butler in an attempt to foil a vicious blackmailer at a country houseparty. But an even greater challenge comes in the form of Lady Sarah Thorndike, daughter of a duke and the intended bride of Lyleton.

Of course neither Lady Sarah or Lyleton wish to marry each other, but their opinions are not important to their dynastic-minded parents. Fortunately, the lively-minded Lady Sarah has her own ideas about how to get their parents to change their minds...

The result is sheer delight for the lucky reader, who gets to revel in rapier-sharp exchanges and an unusual love story that will touch your heart in unexpected ways. (May, 219 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer