Of all the great voices in Regency romance, Michelle Martin stands out as the worthy successor to the incomparable Georgette Heyer for her unique blend of sparkling wit and romantic originality.

When her apoplectic father demands that his eldest daughter Melinda accept the next proposal of marriage she receives, the quick-witted young lady devises a madcap scheme to preserve her independence. All it takes is convincing the scandalous Lord Carlton to consent to a bogus engagement to terrify her father into revoking his decree.

But why would the notorious gentleman agree to her proposition? A small matter of an inheritance, that's why. If he can maintain a respectable facade for a month's time, his dying uncle has promised him a fortune, one he needs badly to refurbish the family estates. Appearing to ally himself to one of the town's most revered families would certainly do the trick.

Respectability, however, is a very slippery commodity for anyone who associates with the impulsive Miss Mathley. Tumbling from one scrape right into another, the maddening young lady somehow makes the handsome earl wish their betrothal were real.

Each book a rare treasure for Regency fans to savor over and over again, this merry romp is everything you could wish and much, much more. (Aug., 248 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer