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A Matter of Class    by Mary Balogh order for
Matter of Class
by Mary Balogh
Order:  USA  Can
Vanguard, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

When Reginald Mason is summoned home for an immediate audience with his father, the young gentleman knows he has pushed his recent spendthrift ways considerably over the limit. Sure enough, his enraged father Bernard tosses out an ultimatum - Reggie must offer for the hand of the disgraced Lady Annabelle Ashton or be thrown out on his ear without a farthing to his name.

The idea of being shackled into an arranged marriage appals Reggie but he bows to his father's demands. As does Annabelle. Her elopement with the new groom had failed miserably and now she must pay a high price. Her impulsive action disgraced her family and left her branded as damaged goods, as her father has sternly pointed out on numerous occasions. That he, the Earl of Havercroft, will soon be related by marriage to a common and coarse coal merchant like Bernard Mason is even more embarrassing than the fact that Havercroft has lost much of his vast fortune to bad investments.

Thus begins Reggie and Annabelle's antagonistic engagement that soon has friends, relatives and the Regency ton speculating on their 'happy and prosperous' future together. Will bride and groom ever warm to one another? That is the titillating question of the day within a society where status means everything.

Though only novella length, this crisp, witty, and atmospheric Regency romp packs a lively, solid punch - and concludes with a very clever plot twist where every word you've read before will suddenly make delightful sense. A Matter of Class is Mary Balogh at her best - a fun little escapade that's the perfect Valentine treat.

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