The splendidly unique Carla Kelly comes up with another Regency love story of stunning power and emotional intensity.

Miss Susan Hampton has spent a lifetime watching her ne'er-do-well father gamble away first the family fortune and then every item of value in his endless quest for just one more chance at the tables. No longer able to afford their own lodgings, father and daughter take shelter in his sister's household, where Susan faces the grim choice of functioning as her aunt's unpaid servant or seeking outside employment.

Her decision to strike out on her own leads her to an isolated manor to become the companion of an elderly widow. Unfortunately, the old lady doesn't want a companion at all, preferring to rely on the bailiff David Wiggins, formerly a master sergeant with Wellington. And it is in this unlikely setting that Susan finds a love that turns all the rules upside down and inside out.

It is always a joy to read a Carla Kelly love story. Always original, always superb, Ms. Kelly's body of work is a timeless delight for discerning readers. (June, 224 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer