Signet celebrates the debut of a dazzling new talent destined to become a diamond of the first water in the highly demanding Regency genre.

Who would have thought the ton's most notorious rake would end up marrying a vicar's innocent daughter? Only the most bizarre of circumstances could be responsible for such an incongruous union.

The Honourable Thomas Mannering was most definitely inebriated-dead drunk, really-when he climbed aboard the mail coach and fell into a stupor from which not even the subsequent accident can rouse him. When he does wake, he finds himself in bed with a lovely but unconscious fellow passenger assumed by the other survivors to be his wife.

Still, since his true love is wed to another, what does it matter who he marries? So he takes the lady to wife with relatively good intentions, but their relationship soon founders on the rock of his continued infatuation with a spoiled society beauty. Can Caroline find a way to open her husband's eyes?

With the skill and grace of a superlative storyteller, the wonderfully gifted Ms. Lane mesmerizes us with intricate and compelling characterizations in this impeccable Regency love story. (Jan., 224 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer