"In for a penny, in for a pound" certainly fits this witty marriage-of-convenience romance between a wastrel lord and a wealthy commoner. Lerner's prose is apropos of the era, yet updated enough to delight today's reader. Her debut's quick pace and smart dialogue are perfect as the adventure and passion unfold.

If Lord Nevinstoke were in the market for a wife, Penelope Brown, who loves orange and hates bad music, would be ideal. So when he inherits a title and a pile of debts, he proposes. Penelope says yes, then hands him a pre-nup to secure a practical relationship founded on mutual respect. After a simple ceremony, where the groom has the bad luck of dropping the ring, the newlyweds head for Nev's estate. They have no idea it's in ruins -- that the tenants are on the verge of revolt, their nasty neighbor wants them gone, or that as they try to work all this out, they just might find love. (LEISURE, Mar., 380 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin