The Barbarian Earl

The Madcap Masquerade

The Misguided Matchmaker

A Touch of Magic

The Unlikely Angel

 
The Yorkshire Lady by Nadine Miller
(Signet, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-451-20146-9
****
The Yorkshire Lady combines an enjoyable romance between an unusual heroine and a dashing hero with a nice dollop of suspense. The result is a most enjoyable Regency romance.

Yves St. Armand is a French comte who was one of England’s most effective agents in the court of Napoleon. The war is over now, but Yves still has a mission. He is determined to find the English nobleman who betrayed his country and caused the death of Yves’ betrothed. There are only four possible suspects and the Earl of Fairborne is the most likely. The earl had lived well during the war, but now he is in grave financial difficulties. So serious have his problems become that he is courting a wealthy mill owner from Yorkshire. That Fairborne suddenly is searching for a rich wife suggests that he is desperate for a new source of income, now that Napoleon is gone.

While Yves’ is searching the earl’s London study, he encounters a woman. Her drab attire suggests that she is the housekeeper. To avoid discovery and keep her quite, Yves pulls her into his arms and kisses her. That kiss shocks both participants. Rather than waking the household, the woman lets him leave.

In fact, this is no housekeeper; rather it is Miss Rachel Barton, the lady from Yorkshire. Rachel has allowed herself to be talked into accompanying the earl to London, so that they can become better acquainted. Tall and slender as well as outspoken and unusual, Rachel has never attracted any suitors, despite her wealth. Although she is flattered by his attentions, Rachel is not about to fall into the earl’s arms. She is by no means sure they will suit, even if she does not realize that her suitor is deeply in debt.

Imagine Rachel’s surprise when a few days later, while visiting Vauxhall Gardens, she espies the housebreaker and discovers that he is the Comte de Rochemont. Yves is equally astounded to discover that the “housekeeper” whose innocent kisses he cannot quite forget is indeed the Yorkshire lady.

Yves decides to pursue the acquaintance, both because he wants to insure that the lady did not inform the earl of his midnight excursion and to perhaps enlist Rachel in his search for proof of the earl’s guilt. Rachel indignantly refuses to believe that the earl is a traitor. However, when Yves suggests that by helping him, she can prove that Fairborne is innocent, she agrees. Another midnight investigation does not turn up proof either way, but it does uncover evidence of the earl’s desperate financial plight. Rachel, who had already decided against marrying her suitor, finally realizes what motivated his courtship. She plans to return home to Yorkshire as soon as possible.

Before she finally makes it home, she faces danger as the earl’s true nature is revealed. She first rescues herself and then is rescued by Yves. And the two find time to fall in love while unmasking the traitor.

Rachel is an unusual Regency heroine in that she comes from trade and has no desire to be anything else but an enlightened mill owner. She is not blinded by the earl’s title and position. If she is perhaps too unsuspecting of his true nature and motives, this is quite understandable. Yves had committed himself to overthrowing every vestige of the regime that had destroyed his family. But now that Louis XVII is on the throne, he finds himself yearning for a simpler life, far from courts and intrigues. Indeed, once he has found the traitor and revenged his beloved’s death, he plans to emigrate to a new life in America. These two are both at odds with society’s games and thus their “happily ever after” is completely believable. They are both interesting and likable characters.

The Yorkshire Lady has a lovely romance, an exciting adventure and a happy ending. What more could a reader want?

--Jean Mason


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