The myriad delights of Candice Hern burst into full bloom this month with her superb new love story set in Regency times.

The Duke of Carlisle absolutely hates houseparties and all the toadying to his exalted position that inevitably accompanies any foray into society. More than anything he despises the husband-hunting young ladies who care only for his title and fortune. So when his mother decides to hold a month-long gathering at his beloved estate, he impulsively decides to be "not at home" for the festivities.

For Miss Catherine Forsythe and her lovely sister Susannah, the invitation to the duchess' houseparty is a real godsend. Teetering on the edge of genteel poverty, they have just about come to the end of their rope. Now, however, they have a chance to find eligible suitors and escape the dreadful fate that awaits them.

But best laid plans go immediately awry, and Catherine finds herself increasingly torn between the safety of a convenient union with a widowed earl and the searing passion she feels for the infuriating man seemingly in charge of his grace's incomparable gardens.

A craftsman of impeccable elegance, Ms. Hern taps brilliantly into the hopes and fears of the human heart as she weaves an unforgettable love story from our deepest fantasies. (Jan., 223 pp., $5.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer