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on 5 August 2002
Stephanie Laurens has done it again. Or, as she in fact wrote it earlier in her career (this was the second book Laurens ever wrote), she has set the precedent for her future work. A well written, fast paced Regency Romance - in fact four for the price of one.
Max Rotherbridge inherited more than a dukedom on the death of his father eighteen months previous to the opening of the book - unknown to him he also inherited 4 wards. An established rake, he is initially dismayed to learn of his responsibilities, but dismay quickly turns into something else when he is presented with the eldest of the four sisters, Caroline Twinning.
It appears that Twinnings have something of a thing for rakes, as the four gorgeous sisters cut a swath through the ton and have the men at their feet. They may seem young, with the exception of 26 year old Caroline, but their eighteen months in America have given them a great deal of polish, and the freedom to discover what it is they really want in life.
This is a truly delightful tale and for me the principle enjoyment is the relationship between the females in the story. Set in a time when women rarely triumphed, here Caroline and her sisters Sarah, Arabella & Lizzy, their chaperone (Max's aunt) and the friends they make in London are able to set their goals, pursue and obtain them - even if it takes a little scheming and risk to get what they want. Each is a true character in their own right, and yet takes comfort in the relationship with their sisters (in the modern sense). Their story is told with a great deal of humour and style.
There has to be some sacrifice in squeezing four stories into one volume. This is firstly that Caroline and Max's is the main romance - the other three are something more than subplots and yet slightly less than a fully developed story in their own right. And finally, of course, is the improbability that all four romances should resolve themselves at the same time. To some extent this is satisfactorily dealt with by making the suitors either friends or relatives of Max. Each romance develops with a different plan of attack, and the charming thing is that although more confident than the typical deb, none of the four women are sure they will be able to hold out for marriage, as they themselves fall in love.
If you enjoy romance and the Regency genre, you will enjoy this well written example. Regular readers of Laurens will not be disappointed - I certainly wasn't.
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on 2 July 2002
This was originally printed as a Mills and Boons book. It was very funny and kept up the fun all through the book. It was a laugh from start to finish. Four original sisters trap four Regency Rakes. All are used to women falling for them but do not like hearing the word marriage. It is a book you can enjoy a second or third time as you pick up the dialogue you may have missed the first time as you were laughong so much you hurried on to find the endings of each affair. After buying this book I made sure I had all her other ones. maureen
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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2011
This is an easy and light read, albeit a tad daft (don't get me wrong, I know these books aren't meant to portray reality!) However, what had me getting cross was the morals - our heroes, all rakes and bounders, try to seduce gently bred virgins from their own social class, who, what is more, are under the protection of one of their own. I found myself wanting the girls to tell them to shove off, and not turn into limp lettuce leaves the moment one of them raises an eyebrow at them! I didn't like that one of the girls gives into the seduction, thinking she's destined to become a mistress, when he, noble soul that he is really, is intending to marry her. She didn't know when she succumbed, so in my book that was pretty rotten on his part. I also found the end ludicrous, even within the genre. Another reviewer has the right of it when they say this would have been better as a four-part series, and not crammed into one short, large font book. I didn't miss the endlessly described sex scenes from her later books, but I see she was setting one of her standards very early in her writing career - that of sex before marriage. There's a lot of it in here!
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This is one of the funniest regency romances that I have read.

Max Rotherbridge, Viscount Delmere and, quote, "the most notorious rake in London", has recently and unexpectedly also inherited the title of Duke of Twyford. The poor condition of the Twyford estates prove something of an inconvenience.

But this is as nothing to the shock which comes next - the new Duke finds that he has also inherited four beautiful sisters as his wards. The late Sir Thomas Twinning had been a friend of the previous Duke of Twyford, Max's uncle. So in his will, he appointed the Duke as the guardian of his four daughters - all heiresses and all exquisitely beautiful. Sir Thomas had apparently not considered the possibility that the Duke's early death might leave his four ravishing daughters under the protection of the sort of man that their Guardian would be expected to protect them from.

Max sets out to find the girls good husbands as quickly as possible, guarding them from his fellow rakehells (most of them his own friends) and launching them into a vastly amused, and then fascinated, London society. Caroline, Sarah, Arabella, and Lizzie are all an immediate hit with the Ton, as London society was known. But while men who fly after them like moths after a flame, as the Duke soon tells his brother, "It's my belief that the Twinning girls eat rakes for breakfast."

Many of the author's romances are part of the "Bar Cynster" or "Bastion Club" series, but this one is a stand-alone novel, and a very amusing one.

Period research and detail is mostly very good, with one exception: the exact date of the events in the story is never given, but a comment made by Max's brother Martin, explaining why he has just sold his commission in Wellington's army, suggests a date at the end of the Napoleonic wars, e.g. 1814 or 1815. The problem with this is that the Twinning sisters have just returned to England after spending a year visiting family in New York. And Britain was at war with America from 1812 to 1815.

It is difficult to reconcile Martin Rotherbridge's comments with a date for the events of the book which would not infer that the four heroines blithely sailed off to visit relatives in a country with which Britain was at war. A rather risky thing even for such adventurous young ladies as the Twinning sisters.

This minor implausibility aside, this book is an excellent and entertaining regency romance and I recommend it.
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2010
I bought this book because I really enjoyed Julia Quinn's books and this book kept coming up on my recommendation page. It is not as good as one of Quinn's books. There are far too many characters romancing one another in one novel, basically the story is about four sisters in the Regency era who become the wards of Max 'a young rake' who is attracted to the oldest sister. The sisters enter the season to find husbands.
The characters are not fully developed and the story is simple with no real interesting plots, it is quite predictable. Therfore I ended up skim-reading the second half. Will definitely be donating it to my local charity shop.
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on 22 July 2010
one of laurens earlier books and it doesnt show. the main relationship is between max rotherbridge and caroline twinning who is his ward through a twist in fate. but she doesnt come alone as she has 3 younger sisters who are all in london for the season and to get a husband. as max tries to successfully gain caroline hand the 3 other sisters try to find their beaux but they also get involved in a scheme to save a friend which is hilarious and reminds me of some school stories i read as a child. a great read which kept your attention that you didnt want to put it down!!!!
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on 21 April 2004
Stephanie Laurens is a talented writer and also reasonably knowledgeableabout her period, but in recent years she's been wasting that talentwriting 'historical romances' which are little more than Black Lace booksin disguise. This book, however, is one of her earlier romances, writtenat a time when she was still trying to stay true to the Regencyperiod.
This is somewhat reminiscent of Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck, in that wehave an arrogant, rakish lord who discovers that, along with the title hehas recently inherited (in this case, Duke of Twyford), he has alsoinherited some wards. Here, his wards are four beautiful sisters, allunmarried, all wealthy and all, he knows, who will be the targets of everyrake in town. He himself is hugely attracted to the eldest Miss Twinning,Caroline, and finds himself plotting to make her his mistress. Were shereally his ward, it would be contrary to any sense of honour - even hishonour - to seduce her, but under the terms of her parents' will, she isof age and so not his ward. Yet he pretends to her that she is, so thathe'll be free to be with her without any suspicion.
There are four romances in this book but, as some other reviewers havenoted, none of them is really satisfying. In an attempt to fit them allin, Laurens rushes through crucial developments - such as her heroesactually realising that they are in love with the women they're pursuing.Even Max - Twyford - whose story is the main one appears to fall in lovewithout the readers ever realising how this momentous event happens. Oneminute he is pursuing Caroline in order to make her his mistress; the next(and this is quite early in the book) we see him musing that seducing heris no longer his primary aim. Why not? What made him fall in love? Wedon't know, because Laurens doesn't show us. Similarly with Lord Darcy,the suitor of Sarah Twinning: Sarah rejects his attempts at seduction, andhe gives up, retiring to his Irish estate in order to show her that he'slost interest. And yet he comes back and pursues her again. Why? With whatobject?
This book does show signs of the pattern Laurens fell into with herCynster books: her heroes all seem to fall in love too quickly, withoutany showing on Laurens' part of why and how this happens. Given the rushednature of the individual love stories, which does leave readersunsatisfied, she would have been better advised to have made it afour-book series, culminating in Max and Caroline's story. Nevertheless,it's an entertaining read, and definitely far, far better than themajority of her later work.
wmr-uk
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on 20 March 2010
This author is very much along the lines of the immortal georgette heyer and has based some of her hero's and heroine's on her characters. The difference here is she has lifted them from the kiss on the finger tips to people with real passions and needs. I am gripped by her books and intend to collect her complete collection. I have georgette heyers complete works and re read them over and over i am sure these will be the same.
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on 5 November 2014
I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed all the others.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Romantic fiction.

I would like to read a tale about a heroine who was, despite our hero's god like abilities, slightly less inclined to allow them to take liberties with their person!

I realise that girls were brought up to believe themselves to be commodities with no real rights over their own bodies but they surely didn't all go like lambs to the slaughter. There must have been cases whereby young women refused to allow themselves to be used in this way. Morals need not always fall by the wayside when passion rears it's delectable head surely? I am as susceptible as the next woman to tall, dark, handsome, brooding titled, rich, intelligent dreamboats but can we gave one who
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on 8 December 2009
Great fun and follows in Stephanie Laurens traditional style- lots of plot, lots of suppressed sexual tension , and a most satisfactory ending. Once you've read one of the series, you'll need to know how the rest of the family fair.
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