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Masquerading the Marquess    by Anne Mallory order for
Masquerading the Marquess
by Anne Mallory
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

James Trenton, Marquess of Angelford, is determined not to fall prey to Love; he knows how it causes pain. Although a highly eligible bachelor, he isn't enamored of simpering debutantes, preferring intelligent young women like the caustic but observant lady's companion, Miss Stafford, whom he delights in provoking whenever they meet. After one such outburst, the poor woman loses her job. At the same time, caricaturist Thomas Landes takes London by storm with brilliant cartoons that skewer the pampered nobility, showing them at their worst, particularly the Marquess of Angelford.

Miss Stafford also resurfaces, this time as ravishing courtesan Esmerelda, the mistress of Angelford's best friend. Intrigued but also suspicious, Angelford begins investigating. He gradually realizes that Calliope Minton, the real woman behind these masquerades, has many dark secrets. When Calliope suddenly finds herself at the center of a maelstrom of deceit and danger, Angelford is the only man she can trust. How they reluctantly collaborate to solve the mystery and reveal the truth about the past, while coming to terms with their individual pain, forms the crux of this story.

Debut author Anne Mallory does a splendid job of Masquerading the Marquess, a story that holds considerable charm as well as suspense. Angelford and Calliope are flawed characters. While there's immediate attraction, it's certainly not love - that comes later. In the meantime readers enjoy a dialogue of snappy repartee and saucy comebacks that, together with the growing suspense, make a lively story. The author also skillfully incorporates historical facts. Anne Mallory is off to a great start with this honest and witty romance.

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