Karen Harbaugh doffs her Kathleen Elliott pseudonym to join the exclusive ranks of great Signet Regency authors with this ingenious variation on a Faustus theme.

Matters are indeed desperate for Lord Richard Clairmond. Even his miraculous survival in the fierce fighting at Waterloo does not allow him any time for rejoicing. His estates completely to let after the suicide of his father, he desperately seeks to find some way to provide for his young sister. And after he loses the last coins of his prize money at the gaming table, he is easy prey for a sinister figure who emerges out of a strange fog to make him an offer he cannot refuse....

As the daughter of a prosperous merchant, lovely Eveline Seton never expected to catch the eye of a nobleman unless, of course, he had dishonorable intentions. But the Viscount Clairmond treats her with such consideration that even when he hopelessly compromises her during a fierce thunderstorm she believes his promise to wed her. Why then does he disappear when she needs him the most?

Ms. Harbaugh stretches the Regency genre in wonderful ways in this highly original, absolutely fascinating love story. Brava, Ms. Harbaugh! (May, 221 pp., $3.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer