One of the Regency genre's brightest new stars delivers a compelling love story impeccably rooted in the mores of the times.

It is a desperate time for Charles, Lord Rathbone. For years he has counted on a promised inheritance from his maternal grandmother to restore his estate and provide the foundation for the life of a gentleman he has been raised to expect. Now, however, he has been summoned to her deathbed and informed that unless he comes up with a wife there will be no inheritance at all.

Fate intervenes in the form of Lady Melissa Stapleton, a young lady fleeing the attentions of her wastrel brother's drunken friends. In a chance encounter at a small inn, Charles conceives what appears to be a brilliant idea-the girl he knows as Harriet can accompany him and be introduced as his prospective bride.

Little do either of them realize that both will be trapped by an ever-growing pile of lies that only the truest of love can overcome.

Although some romance fans may cavil at the hero's extended ambiguity of motivation, even the most demanding of readers will shed tears of joy when he earns his happy ending in a passionately intense resolution. (July, 224 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer