By Elizabeth Mansfield, (originally published 1980, reprinted 1996), Regency
Jove, $4.99, ISBN #0-515-08773-4
Regency Sting is a traditional Regency Romance with a few variations. The hero, Jason Hughes is an American, the new Viscount Mainwaring by inheritance, who has never been in England before coming to claim his title. When he arrives, his appearance and manners are a bit rustic, so his aunt Harriet, with both social and matchmaking intentions, decides to leave him in her step-daughter Anne's capable hands.
Anne Hartley is a proper English lady, who is all but engaged to the gorgeous, but frightfully dull, Arthur Claybridge. Neither one of them has any money, and Claybridge's family has debts, so their parents oppose the match. When the old curmudgeonly Viscount Mainwaring died leaving nothing to his sister Harriet and no portion for Anne, the possibility of Claybridge and Anne marrying becomes even more remote. Anne grudgingly agrees to tutor Jason on the niceties of being an English lord in exchange for a generous dowry.
Jason is not quite the yokel everyone takes him for, but he plays along with their assumptions because he likes Anne and enjoys her fussing over him. Within a few weeks everyone but Anne can see that they have misjudged Jason, and he is a stunning social success.
Jason really is a charmer. Capable, considerate, stylish, and fun-loving, he sets Anne's back up immediately with his extreme self-confidence and refusal to do things all her way. Anne, of course, spends most of the book confused at how he can affect her so much and wondering why she spends so much more time trying to ensure Jason's social position than planning her own elopement with Claybridge. Their scenes together sparkle with wit and light sexual tension.
The secondary characters in Regency Sting are also humorous without being annoying and add further dimension to Anne and Jason, showing them as part of a family and circle of friends.
Of course everything works out well in the end for everyone involved, this being an Elizabeth Mansfield romance. You won't find tormented heroes or heroines, out-of-control emotional angst, or complicated love triangles in her books, just good, clean fun. If you are looking to spend a few hours with some charming characters, while reading first-rate dialogue, try and find Regency Sting.
-- Rachel Potter (Written before Rachel joined our review staff)
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