THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA
Intrepid American heiress Cecily (Cece) White imagines herself another Nellie Bly, so when the Earl of Graystone breaks her friend's heart, Cece decides to beat him at his own game. After all, her mother would love for Cece to capture an Englishman and his title.
Jared, the Earl of Graystone, needs a wife, specifically one wealthy enough to save his ancestral estate. However, Jared hopes his invention, a motor car, will enable him to earn the money they need, so when he meets Cece he never reveals that he is the Earl.
Cece allows Jared to believe she is a butcher's daughter and it isn't until they have already fallen in love that each reveals their true identity.
All would be well except that Jared's mother, Olivia, wants only the best for her son and like the mother in the fairy tale, she devises tests that Cece must pass before she can become his wife.
Cece is a woman of the '90s (the 1890s) and manages to pass each one with flying colors until the day her loyalty is tested. Loving Jared as much as she does, Cece does what is best knowing she might lose him forever.
You'll believe fairy tales can come true after reading this endearing, engaging and highly entertaining love story. Victoria Alexander outdoes herself. SENSUAL (May, 300 pp., $4.99)