Talk about your offbeat and wacky scenarios. MacAlister has outdone herself with this reality show run amok. Tessa and Max are funny, sexy and slightly poignant—a true match.

Historian and genealogist Tessa Riordan figures she's lost her marbles when she impulsively agrees to appear on a new British reality show based on the "Dollar Duchesses" — American heiresses who married English peers.

Wanting realism, the producer hires architect Max Edgerton, who is a descendant of the Duke of Bridgewater. Tessa is a distant relation of dollar duchess Consuelo Vanderbilt, so she too is perfect. But in Tessa's mind a perfect duchess means tiny and skinny, neither of which apply to her.

Despite her misgivings, Tessa arrives on the set and promptly wreaks havoc. As for Max, not only is he drop-dead gorgeous, but he comes with a cranky teenager. As Duchess, Tessa is supposed to be in charge of the household and servants — too bad she's terrified of her ladies' maid. The cast and crew stumble along from one semi-disaster to another. As if there aren't already enough problems, it seems a saboteur is afoot.

(May, 352 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Jill M. Smith