The prolific Valerie King offers an absorbing look at life and love in a small country community in Regency England.

Constance Mayford is not your usual country miss. Not for her the circumspect behavior of an unwedded lass mindful of her proper station in life. Instead, she manages her parents' household and estate with effortless ease and deeply immerses herself in the affairs of the local village. In tribute, she is known far and wide as "The Squire."

But even "The Squire" has feelings, and a summer's meeting with Richard Wexham, sixth earl Lord Greywell, leaves her breathless. As summer draws nigh once again, her heart is all a'flutter at the prospect of finally getting to know the gentleman as he returns to visit her neighbors.

Greywell, too, cannot stop thinking of last summer's chance encounter with a lovely country lass. His intentions, however, are definitely dishonorable, and discovering her true identity gives him a nasty jolt. Unable to resist his continuing fascination with the lady, Greywell struggles to reconcile his feelings with the behavior he would expect from a wife.

Is there a future for this unlikely pair of lovers?

Although many readers will have trouble with the often hypocritical attitude of the hero, Ms. King spins a mesmerizing tale that will keep reader interest at a high level. (July, 254 pp., $4.50)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer