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The scintillating talent of Allison Lane is in radiant form in this wickedly delicious duel of hearts between a stuffy marquess and an independent-minded lady.

He is known for his calm, cool and collected manner. He is a positive paragon of virtue, a man upon whom his family calls in any and every emergency. But when Richard Avery, sixth Marquess of Carrington, first encounters the fiery-haired Miss Penelope Wingave he loses both his cool and his temper within the space of only minutes.

Granted, he has been led to believe that she is a harridan planning the downfall of his late uncle's family. And after all, she certainly must have encouraged her obviously fortune-hunting sister to make a play for his young cousin. Besides, anyone eccentric enough to raise ostriches certainly has her attics to let wasting pasturage on such uselessly exotic beasts.

Oh what a fabulous learning experience is in store for the haughty aristocrat as one by one his preconceptions fall by the wayside to the sheer delight of romance connoisseurs everywhere. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! (Feb., 224 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer