The Heir and The Spare
by Maya Rodale
(Berkeley, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0425-21763-4
****
There is so much to say in this review it is hard to know where to start. Maybe it is better to note some highlights.

  • This is a debut novel that is going to be hard to beat with a sophomore effort.
  • This description on the back cover is slightly misleading so donít let that dissuade you from picking up this story.
  • The heroine is feisty and American and ready to set the ton on its ear.
  • The hero is one who grows on you as he comes into his own
  • The chaperone in the story is often funny and unique, despite some predictability in her actions.

All these point to recommended reading and a new author to keep an eye on.

Emilia Highhart is a shipping heiress whose deceased mother was English and whose last wish was for Emilia to enjoy a season. Her father sends Emelia to London with her aunt, Lady Palmerston, as her chaperone. It is hoped Emelia will find a husband, but no one is too crazy about making it happen. Emilia is lovely, but has one slight flaw Ė she is often clumsy. When you throw in that she is a bluestocking, there are some who say she wonít get an offer in her first season.

Devon Kensington is the second son, born just a few minutes after his brother Philip, who is the heir to a dukedom. Devon and Philip always competed and because they found themselves vying for their fatherís affection, they could never really be close. Devon was the serious one, wishing he could make his father proud. Philip became the careless one, and knowing he was secure in his future, he often did scandalous things. He even tried to seduce the Duke of Graftonís new bride between the wedding and the wedding night. For that he was called out. Devon stood in for him, primarily because Philip could not have won the duel. When he shot the Duke and there was concern that the law would be brought in, Devon fled to the new country of America. There he made a name for himself and entered into a partnership with a great shipping company. Devon returned to England after hearing word from the family butler that his father was dying. He decides to attend one ball, and of course, everyone assumes he is his brother. There his fate is sealed.

Just as Emilia is entering the ballroom, coming down a long flight of stairs, Devon realizes she is going to trip and fall. He rushes to catch her and holds her just a bit too long. Later they meet by accident in the library and share a searing kiss. Sadly, Emilia thinks that she has lost her heart to Philip. She is determined to see if the magic they shared was mutual and she sets out to further tempt him. She is vastly confused when he acts as if he remembers nothing of that night. It is only after several misunderstandings and another kiss that she realizes she has been duped. The man she wants is not Philip, but Devon.

The rest of the tale portrays the struggle between Emilia and Devon as they try to figure out their feelings and maneuver around all the obstacles in their way. This story is rich in romance and the two leads are perfect for each other. Philip is, at times, a bit of a stereotype, but after all, one must see how he is so inferior to his brother, who has actually made something of himself. And there are some predictable scenes, but luckily, this new author has thrown in just enough twists to set it apart. There were several times when I just knew what was going to happen, only to have something else occur.

There is humor, romance and a set of secondary characters that have more than one dimension. This is a rarity in a debut novel and helps to increase the enjoyment a reader will get out of The Heir and the Spare . I look forward to more of Maya Rodaleís work.

--Shirley Lyons


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