Thursday, September 29, 2005

Review:The Bedeviled Duke, by Judith Lansdown

This is a traditional Regency originally published in 1996. The widowed Rudolph Denbeigh, Duke of Abbercombe (minor problem: I spent the entire book calling him Abercrombie in my head!), has returned to England with his children to present his oldest identical twin girls in society so that they may begin their husband hunt. The enormous stumbling block being that he was transported over twenty years earlier for murdering a peer &, 'Cash' as his friends know him, realizes that his daughters will pay the price. Meantime Miss Olivia Willburton-Smythe is bosom-bow of Cash's sister in law. Miss Olivia is drawn into Cash's life by his chidren & his sister in law although she remains suspicious of his actions & motives because of his past. Add a spy for Napoleon, a family member determined to get revenge, a missing brother & four sets of identical twins & you have yourself one amazing, complicated plot.

To her vast credit, Ms. Lansdown handles it all with aplomb. Cash & Olivia discuss their misunderstandings. Cash himself is a loving, even indulgent father, especially when you consider the traditional child rearing methods of that time & class. While he is long widowed (six years) he appears ready to find another companion,, if one could be found who loves his children. Olivia decides that perhaps society was wrong & unneccessarily cruel & that she wishes to assist the girls' entree into Polite Society to honor her friendship with Cash's sister in law, Jessica. Olivia, at thirty one, has resigned herself to being the maiden aunt. Her feelings for Cash & his family take her by surprise, but after several adventures together she admits he's the man for her.

Naturally, there is quite a bit more to the story than I have said here. The children (four sets of identical twins!) play a major role in the plot. The espionage element is prominently featured as well. Cash & Olivia are thoughtful adults who discuss their differences & the past & who acknowlege their responsibilities in the present. Their love story, set amid the chaos of an eight child home & the espionage war between England & France, is touching & will make you smile.


Tara Marie said...

I don't read many traditional regencies, but this sounds fun, though that's a lot of kids for a 200 page book. Judith Lansdown is one of my favorite trad writers.

Bookwormom said...

I never used to read them either, but it has been hectic lately & I find them easier to keep up with & drag around.

They're nostalgic for me. I cut my romance teeth, so to speak, reading traditional Regencies & I'm sad that they're going off of the market. Given all of the 'requirements'they have, finding well done short form Regencies is a challenge. I hope to find a few of the real gems & enshrine them on the keeper shelves.

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