The talented Wilma Counts follows up her pleasing debut novel with a romance featuring a diverting duel of hearts spiced with a dash of danger.

Lady Elinor Richards is in desperate straits indeed. The death of her father lands her under the guardianship of her greedy uncle, whose nefarious collusion with a debauched crony threatens to trap her in an abhorrent marriage. With no other family to whom she can turn to, the only person who might be able to help is her old governess, Harriet Palmer, now retired and living in London.

The advent of a new governess for his children is greeted with great relief by Adrian Whitson, Marquis of Trenville. Deeply involved in affairs of state, he can rest easier knowing that the children are under the control of a strong, intelligent woman, even though her background remains somewhat of a mystery.

To first his surprise and then chagrin, the handsome marquis finds himself spending more time thinking about his new employee than his governmental duties. Confirmation of the presence of a spy in his household, however, places his heart on the horns of a dilemma. Can the woman he has come to love actually be an enemy agent?

Although the marquis seems a bit laggardly in love, the capable heroine and nicely developed plot carry the day. (On-sale Feb., 222 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer