Zebra favorite Jo Ann Ferguson returns with another pleasing duel of hearts Regency style.

Sheer desperation caused Miss Emily Talcott to publish a volume of poetry under the nom de plume of the Marquis de la Coeur. The family coffers severely depleted by the mounting losses of her gamester father, she desperately needs the income to keep the very roof over their heads.

But when the marquis' poetry becomes all the rage in polite society, Emily faces an even greater challenge. Who is the stranger who has stepped forward claiming to be the marquis? Worse yet, how can she prevent her naive young sister from falling at the feet of this unscrupulous impostor without revealing her own secret?

If that weren't enough, she must also deal with the suave charm of Damon, Lord Wentworth. A gambling crony of her father's, he exercises an irresistible appeal that could literally ruin Emily's life.

Is there any way out of this coil?

Although there is still an overuse of unfamiliar slang and occasional inconsistencies in characterization and logic, Ms. Ferguson is gaining control over her considerable storytelling talent. (Feb., 253 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer