Sunday, May 31, 2009

Four in Hand; Stephanie Laurens

I didn't realize this is the second Stephanie Laurens book I've reread for the Challenge until I'd already finished it. :( Even so, it's late & I've no time or interest in rereading something else so I've put a post it note on my calender reminding me not to pick Ms. Laurens next time! LOL The title links to Ms. Laurens page that has the original back cover blurbs. This link connects you to the page listing all of Ms. Laurens' regencies. This is truly a book out of the Wayback Machine. Four in Hand was originally published by Mills & Boon back in 1993! My copy is the 2002 version, which is the cover I've posted here, many thanks to the folks over at Fantastic Fiction. FIH is your basic traditional regency guardian ward theme romance.

Max Rotherbridge, the new Duke of Trowbridge, is rousted out of bed by his staff at the ungodly hour of nine am (!!) because a young lady awaits him in the downstairs parlor. Yes, Your Grace, an actual young lady. Miss Caroline Twinning (just like the tea), age twenty five (and unmarried, can you imagine?!) has arrived at Max's house to discuss his guardianship of herself and her three sisters. To say that Caroline was shocked & upset upon seeing Max's evident youth & savvy is to overstate matters considerably. To her immense credit, however, Caroline sees immediately that the Twinning sisters' hopes of hijinks in London under the doddering eyes of an elderly, easily befuddled male guardian are not to pass.

Poor hung over Max, after ordering an ice pack, shoos her off to her hotel & goes to see his solicitor. Which gentleman tells him that a)he can't get out of it and b) that each young woman is an heiress in her own right. Yes, all four of them are as rich as Croseus, to borrow as PG Wodehouse phrase. Max then hares off to his Aunt Augusta's house & pleads his case. Could she, would she, pretty please be the Twinning's chaperone & help him see them all safely married and off his hands as soon as possible? Of course she would. She could never let down her favorite nephew.

Like all traditional regencies, the door closes on the serious loving. All of the characters are straight out of casting. Incredible gorgeous, intelligent & wealthy young women. A crotchety elderly aunt, socially well connected and quite a shrewd judge of character to serve as chaperone. The group of male friends, all sexually experienced, wealthy rakes who really don't want to get married. Mix in one London season, lots of parties and a group of sisters who plot together?

After rereading this, I still find it a quick, light and happy read with all of the familiar casting with whom a knowledgeable reader is familiar. One of the differences is that all of the men are quite upfront with each other that they really don't want to get "leg shackled" as they so eloquently phrase it. But they do want as much slap & tickle as they can get away with. One of the guys actually proposes to one sister that she become his mistress! Max and Augusta already keep a sharp eye on the girls, so things will probably only go so far.. but still a rake can always hope, right?

As I dearly love the restrictions of the traditional regency genre & mourn is near demise Four in Hand will stay on my keeper shelves. :)

Happy Reading!


nath said...

Hmmm, it's been a while since I last read a Stephanie Laurens - I started finding them too similar from one another... but this one might do it :)

The only thing, all of them get married by the end of the season?

Bookwormom said...

Nath- Oh, yes, they're all married at the end. LOL :) They all elope. Strains belief, absolutely. But for me this works as a light quick read when I'm looking for a quickie (so to speak! :).