The innovative Allison Lane diverts us with a shifting charade of Regency relationships that will keep the reader guessing up to the last page.

Nicholas Barrington, the newly elevated Marquess of Woodvale, is certainly looking forward to the London Season. After several years of celibacy in the country, he cannot help but anticipate the resumption of some of his more rakish activities now that he has returned to the city.

One of the first places the marquess decides to visit is the salon of that intellectual beauty, the widowed Lady Bounty. To his surprise, he recognizes the lady from his own past, a time in which his youthful hot blood, as well as his inherent arrogance, led him to cross the line while trifling with the affections of a lovely innocent.

Noting with chagrin that she still moves him to instant passion, the marquess tries to deny his true feelings until a tangle of courtships forces him to make the most important decision of his life.

Ms. Lane maneuvers a large cast of characters through a byzantine set of obstacles and orchestrates a clever finale in which everyone ends up with just the right mate. (Oct., 224 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer