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Vengeful ingenue (with courtesan's heart!) meets her match.
on 1 December 1998
Review Length: About 400 words.
EVERYBODY'S GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE 'CEPT FOR ME AND MY MONKEY....AND PARROT!
This is no ignorant drollery, no foolish frolic. This is a very funny tale of two confused people mangled by their giddy, selfish parents. One tries to live down his father's past. The other dares her mother's past to live HER down. It should have been titled the Taming of the Shrewd, as an object lesson to intractable people armored far less by their intellect than they smugly believe. ONE CAVEAT: If you confuse gravitas with depth, or mistake pomposity for intelligence, I warn you now. The era is Regency. The romp is ribald. If you can't stand the mirth, go read The Devil's Bargain; but if you like your regencies wry and rollicky, here is where you'll find that style, voice, humour and mischief. Okay?
It starts with a fatal accident----actually, a mutual gaffe de passionelle so hilarious and undeniably public that the lothario's son does his admirable best to convince the Haute Monde his inheritance stopped short of such legendary joie de vivre. After years of strenuous effort, this boring pillar of the ton proves himself such a refined, sober, upstanding gentleman that the gossips relent, finally allowing Bramwell Seaton, Ninth Duke of Selbourne, to bestow his rehabilitated family name on his appropriately staid and abstemious fiancee.
When better to discover his father's instructions to sponsor the deadly doxy's daughter, a debut certain to refresh dreaded memories of the Widow Winstead and the scandalous swath she drilled through Society with his father (and quite a few other gentlemen of rank and fortune)? Bram can NOT refuse this posthumous request from the absent father whose love he never knew; so he receives into his townhouse the bombshell Sophie Winstead with her uncanny genius for righting the pitiful lives of everyone in his sphere (think Pollyanna), and inciting in Bram the horror that he IS his father's son after all. It is a joy to watch him unravel (think Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby). To make matters worse, Miss Winstead (not to mention her tattletale menagerie) rattles so many skeletons in Mayfair closets that her mother's "old friends" smell blackmail and take steps to protect their reputations and their secrets.
All this author's magic is here: the historic detail, the sparkling dialogue, the brief yet vibrant descriptions which land you right there in Regency London with characters you hope for, root for, fear for----when you're not sliding off your chair with laughter. My Lord Guardian was NEVER like this! END