|Christina Kingston: Ride for the Roses|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-515-12785-X
At the Golden Boar tavern, heroic and rakish Harry Wainwright, Earl of Taskford, inaugurates his relationship (or more accurately, contest of wills) with the widow Landry by mistaking her for a lady of the evening instead of a lady of the realm. Harry soon realizes Regina possesses the power to make herself his mistress -- a startling thought for a rake and womanizer. But ultimately Regina proves herself a true lady. She would never do anything unseemly, especially since she travels to save her orphaned niece and nephew from her sinister cousin Jasper Ruddleston (a villainous name if ever I heard one).
Yet, in the historic times when men were men and women were possessions, Regina discovers she must find a husband before she can successfully rescue the children. Everyone apparently believes Harry fits the description. Everyone except Regina who marches down the aisle to wed . . . . Oops! That would be telling.
You'll want to read for yourself the details of this entertaining and humorous romp with serious undertones concerning the economic and social issues of the 19th century. Readers will encounter horse training and races, sensual rendezvous, likeable children, stalkers, evil men, a kindly butler and housekeeper, and a band of ex-cavalry heroes whom Harry calls his friends.
Kingston draws from a closet full of old classics such as the mustache twisting villain, the rogue, the urgent need to marry, the beautiful widow, but she adds a twist here, accessories there, to update and create something uniquely original, yet familiar. Blessed with a fine ear for dialogue and a strong sense of timing, she tells a story that moves toward an ending that adds a few more surprises. She doesn't quite pull off the coup intended for the end, but she comes close.
Most readers will appreciate Regina's consistently strong character (no vapors or wringing of hands for this self-sufficient widow) and the heroic rake haunted by dead comrades, Harry Wainwright. Surrounding this delightful duo stands a cast of colorful, charming and memorable friends and felons.
After the last page, I felt as though I said good-bye to old chums, the definite sign of a good book. I lingered over the closing door rather than rushing to shut it behind the last word.
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