Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2008 (1941)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
has long been one of my favorite of Regency queen Georgette Heyer's romances, as its lovely heroine, Deborah Grantham, is a rather unusual one, living on the fringes of society and helping her feckless aunt, Lady Eliza Bellingham, run an elegant gambling establishment (hence the title).
roud Max Ravenscar, '
quite the richest man in town
', is summoned by his aunt, Lady Mablethorpe, to rescue her son Adrian from marriage to a
out of a gaming house.
' Of course, he goes to see the wench for himself, planning to buy her off. Deborah has not chosen this life. Rather, she was forced into it by her aunt's poor management and indebtedness. Now, she's being pressured to become the mistress of the unpleasant Lord Ormskirk, who holds their mortgage - it might well be a choice between that and debtor's prison.
eborah knows that Max's cousin Adrian is infatuated with her, but plans to let him down gently. That is, she does until Max offers to pay her to drop all
to Adrian's '
hand and heart.
' Deb has quite a temper and is so enraged that she plays along with Max, demanding a higher fee. He rescinds his offer and threatens her, calling her a
- infuriating her so much that she takes drastic action. The misunderstandings - and resulting anger on both sides - escalate to the very end of the book.
ow do they get from there to a
happily ever after
? You'll have to read the book yourself to find out. As always, Heyer gives us well-developed characters, witty dialogue, rivalry between gentlemen, and plenty of (restrained given the era) passion between her leads. There's also an amusings sub-plot involving Max's flirtatious young half-sister Arabella and Deb's shady Irish protector, Lucius Kennet.
is an engrossing read and one of Heyer's best, which is a strong recommendation.
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