Friday, July 18, 2008

The Chaperon Bride by Nicola Cornick

Annis Wycherly enjoys her independence. Though she was once married, ever since her husband died, she has made her own way in society as a chaperon and matchmaker, with a reputation for being able to chaperon difficult yung ladies into suitable marriages. Right now, she is in charge of the Misses Crossley, the elder of which is a nasty young woman with a too-sharp tongue, but whose sister is a much nicer girl.

Though she is really too young and lovely to be taken for a chaperon, Annis dresses in clothes that make her look older and a great deal dowdier so that she doesn't outshine the ladies she is chaperoning. But when she attracts the attention of Adam Ashwick, a lord who her brother is feuding with, he will not take no for an answer, and pursues her relentlessly, especially when he finds out what all those dowdy dresses and hair-concealing turbans are hiding.

As Annis shepherds her charges and tries to weather her brother and Lord Ashwick's feud, she must protect her own reputation and keep it from scandal if she would keep her independence and freedom to do as she wishes. But when she is approached by her brother's employer, a jumped-up upstart with money but no title or breeding, to sell her property, Starbeck, to him, she refuses, and that causes the man to deliver several veiled threats that put her back up and make her dislike the man even more. She isn't the only one being blackmailed by him, for Adam Ashwick has also heard the man's threats, though what he seeks from Adam is respectability and social access.

But Ingram's practices have raised deep resentment in the neighborhood, and to save each other, Annis and Adam will have to join together if they want to duck Ingram's threats and save Annis' beloved estate from the merchant's grasping hands.

Another fine romance, not all that memorable, but well-written and a good beach read. This one isn't deathless prose, nor will it set you on fire, but it is entertaining and will keep your attention. Good entertainment.

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