Avon, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Liz Cooper
arah Killian hasn't seen her brother, William, in eight years, ever since they were sent to separate boarding schools. As orphans, the two had only an unmet grandfather as benefactor. When he died, without leaving them any inheritance, Sarah decided to seek out her brother, as well as employment, in London. Her arrival in town doesn't lead to the happy reunion she hoped for, as Sarah finds out that William has been missing for seven years.
enniless, Sarah must rely on a distant relative for shelter, but life with the Mountheaths isn't the high-class lifestyle she expected. Her aunt is mean, her cousins rude, and her uncle makes unwelcome advances. The only person in high society she is able to trust is Lord Peter Northrup, a man with secrets of his own, who is intrigued by Sarah's past. Lord Peter loves a puzzle almost as much as he enjoys defying the fashion expectations of the day, and he makes it his personal mission to discover Sarah's secrets. When Sarah finally tracks her brother down, she learns that he's been working for '
type figure. Now that '
' has disappeared, William plans to assume his identity and continue his work. Appalled at the danger this would entail for her little brother, Sarah formulates a perilous plan: she will become the new '
', if only for long enough to make William change his mind.
is a blend of
. However, this regency romance lacks the emotional depth of either story. Though Brenda Hiatt's writing style is charming, complete with authentic street accents of the period and well illustrated details, the adventure that's promised in the book's synopsis never arrives. Instead, we have a heroine who teeters on the brink of inconsistency throughout. Sarah is courageous and loyal one moment, but terrified and ready to faint the next. The reader never quite knows what to expect from her - she's neither a tough heroine nor an innocent one, but an unlikely and unrealistic blend of both. Though Lord Peter is more believable, struggling with his attraction for a mysterious stranger and with haunting war memories, the relationship between the two is fueled by unbridled desire, and complicated by assumptions and misunderstandings - lack of trust abounds.
ans of regency romances will be delighted at the opportunity to explore the London underground as well as high society. Brenda Hiatt writes with the knowledge of an author familiar with her chosen time period, and
highlights her talent, but falls short of offering a satisfying romantic tale.
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