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Fawcett introduces a sparkling new talent with a gift for diverting drawing room comedy and engaging romance.

Giles Vayne, eighth Duke of Winterton, is a man besieged. Even from beyond the grave, his deceased father's voice, mimicked by a parrot, can be heard night after night importuning his son to marry and produce an heir. Although a blanket over the cage will silence the bird, there is no escaping his own conscience.

Still, he does have certain standards that the mother of his heir must meet, and the shy Miss Henrietta Lanford does not come even close to his concept of an eligible bride. In fact, he is so irritated by her aunt's blatant attempt at matchmaking that he allows a scathing remark to escape his lips that almost ruins the young lady's debut. But Henrietta is stout of heart and promptly turns the tables on the stuffy duke.

And so, they're off on a madcap duel of hearts that turns society on its ears. And, with the unforgettable assistance of a truly remarkable feline, a merry romp is brought to happy conclusion.

As Ms. Stevens polishes her grasp of the social niceties of the time period, her lucky readers can look forward to delicious entertainment indeed. (May, 251 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer