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A Gentleman's Honor    by Stephanie Laurens Amazon.com order for
Gentleman's Honor
by Stephanie Laurens
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (2003)
Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

One dark night, Anthony Blake (Viscount Torrington) discovers ravishing widow Mrs. Alicia Carrington standing stupefied over a dead body in his godmother's gardens. Despite her being a suspect, Tony finds this self-possessed beauteous widow a lot more to his taste than the insipid young misses society's been throwing at his bachelor head. When spymaster Dalziel asks Tony to investigate the murder, he's more than happy to have a valid reason to pursue the gorgeous Alicia.

But what neither Tony nor London society knows is that Alicia is unmarried. She and her siblings are genteel but quite poor. Alicia scraped together every single penny they had in order to come to London. There she masquerades as the widowed Mrs. Carrington, in order to launch her younger sister Adriana into the ton in hopes of a spectacular marriage. Even though Alicia finds herself inexplicably drawn towards the handsome ex-spy, she fears discovery. All the while, someone is spreading rumors, trying to implicate Alicia as the murderer. Who is this mysterious adversary?

Bestselling author Stephanie Laurens specializes in historical romances set in Regency England. A Gentlemanís Honor is her twenty-fifth book and the second in a new series about members of the exclusive Bastion Club, first introduced in The Lady Chosen. The plot is well thought out and the suspense maintained till the end. The mystery is complex and while the who of it is easily guessed, it's the why which comes as a welcome surprise. Tony has many heroic attributes, along with endearing human foibles. Alicia's not the traditional Regency heroine, but rather a daring and resourceful young woman who unhesitatingly sets out to con London society.

Their romance is a bit too sudden to be plausible. There is a secondary romance between the younger sister and another dishy guy, but alas, nothing much comes of it. The mischievous younger brothers add a dash of light-heartedness to a story which begins well, but sags in the middle when at times overly lengthy love scenes bog down the plot. Later, the pace quickens breathtakingly to a suitably climactic ending. And the plot point when Alicia moves in with Tony seems dubious at best, historically speaking. But even with this blemish, Laurens' romantic tale of history and mystery remains fresh, entertaining and engaging.

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