- Mass Market Paperback: 324 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Books (Feb 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425173356
- ISBN-13: 978-0425173350
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.7 x 2.5 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,452,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
As the story opens, Lady P's hands are - literally - in Wildcat's pants, though not in search of erotic release. Elizabeth, you see, is bedevilled by keptomania. Married at an early age to a man old enough to be her father, she has been left to fend for herself in London society after his death. Elizabeth has lots of secrets and is beset with terror at the prospect of having to function on her own and on behalf of her young son, amongst London's elite. She is turning too quickly to another marriage with the noble, uninspiring, Marquess of Cresting, Peter Ballatine; she is also turning to food, to the detriment of her stays, and to the unconsious comfort of "pinching" things. She has amassed a veritable treasure trove of useless items filched from one person or another over the months since her husband's death. When her path crosses with MacInnes, however, she is in trouble: she takes his most valued possession, a bandolier bag made for him by his Delaware mother. Wildcat is intent on retrieving it, and Elizabeth is dead-center in his crosshairs as he single-mindedly pursues his goal. To go any further in a description of the plot, would be to reveal too many delightful surprises. Suffice it to say that CC develops an ingenious subplot involving Elizabeth's future in-laws and MacInnes, who ultimately has to make several choices about what's really most important to him. The surprises at the end leave the reader feeling sympathetic to ALL the characters, which is also quite a feat.
The dialog is just plain funny in an un-self-conscious way; the sexual scenes are understated but provocative; and all the characters are developed with empathy and depth (even the dragon mother-in-law-to-be). I especially found staid Peter Ballantine to be a kind, thoughtful, and ultimately generous man. This is a different kind of story, and I recommend it without reservations - for me, it's definitely a keeper.
A desperate Elizabeth Langham is harboring a terrible secret. She's possessed of a nervous tendency towards relieving the people around her of their personal effects. Should the ton ever find out, her chances at landing her suitor, a bland yet wealthy Marquis, will become nil. Worse still, she and her young son will be drummed out of polite society completely.
A trip to the stationer's to buy a pen set for her darling offspring, before he leaves home to attend a young gentleman's school in the countryside, has Elizabeth feeling particularly agitated. On this outing she "pinches" a bit more than just a trinket, she also pats down the well-formed backside of the tall man in line before her!
Visiting American Wildcat MacInnes realizes too late that his cherished bandolier bag has gone missing, and is certain the soft gentlewoman from the stationer's knows something about it. But of what use would such a thing be to a genteel women like that? The handsome Lenape warrior quickly becomes convinced that like the other aristocratic lovelies he's encountered, Elizabeth is just trying to lay the foundation for a tryst with him.
Wildcat searches out the pale beauty, bent both on retrieving his prized possession as well as taking the lady up on her offer. But he never expected their brief liaison to soften his stoic heart, and soon finds himself willing to do anything for Elizabeth, even if it means going to Newgate prison in her stead!
What worked for me:
Elizabeth's "sticky fingers" issue was very unusual and made for some creative plot twists. The opening in particular was an excellent example of this, employing both a bit of humor and a hint of sensuality in the way Elizabeth picked Cat's pocket.
Size-wise Elizabeth was quite plump and had no qualms about it other than the pain of trying to keep her stays laced as tightly as possible.
What didn't work for me:
Elizabeth was sweet, but a bit on the dependent side, which really didn't make much sense given her history. (I also didn't particularly care for her other dangerous secret, and found it difficult to see how she managed to move about in Society, even with an Earl on her arm.)
I couldn't quite get into Wildcat either. His character was a bit underdeveloped and just didn't ring true to me, or at least his experiences in London didn't. A 6'9" Lenape brave, even if he's half Scot, doesn't seem likely to be accepted by the haute ton.
And how did Elizabeth's best friend and almost sister-in-law Valerie have the opportunity to get herself into so much trouble? You would have thought that despite her ripe old age of twenty-two, Valerie's dragon of a mother would have been keeping her gimlet eye on her wild daughter at all times. Or at least would have employed a duenna who would have kept her in line...
Another case of tumbling into bed before a declaration of love...
A solid read for fans of sensual Regency-settings or Native American heroes.
Warning: there are some steamy scenes in this book...
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