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Lady Diana's Darlings

The Lieutenant's Lady

The Merchant Prince

Mistletoe Mayhem

A Rogue For Christmas

Town Bronze by Kate Huntington
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-7492-1
Kate Huntington has written another pleasant Regency with a hero with an unusual background. Christopher Warrender has spent eleven years in a series of French prisons. His grandfather had sent eighteen your old Christopher off to the continent in 1803 to gain some polish. Instead, when war between Britain and France resumed, he found himself the “guest” of Napoleon’s government. His recalcitrance had resulted in his incarceration in numerous prisons. Now, with Napoleon on his way to Elba, Christopher is on his way home - to his grandfather and to the young lady who was destined to be his wife since childhood.

Cassandra Davies is the ward of Viscount Adderley. Like her guardian, she had believed that his grandson was dead until word of Christopher’s survival arrived. While Cassandra is not unhappy that her erstwhile playmate has survived, she is nonetheless unhappy that her plans have been upset. Now twenty-two and unwed, she had almost convinced the viscount to allow her to go to London. She knows that her guardian will once again try to force her to wed his grandson. So when she encounters Christopher, she informs him in no uncertain terms that she has no intention of marrying him.

After eleven years in prison, Christopher has no intention of being promptly caught in the parson’s mousetrap. So he hies himself off to London to enjoy himself as is befitting the heir to a fortune and title. Viscount Adderley, determined that Cassandra’s fortune and person will remain in the family, follows his grandson with his ward in tow. Cassandra will finally have the chance to attain some “town bronze.”

By the time they arrive in London, Christopher has already made the acquaintance of Mrs. Benningham, a dashing widow. He has found rooms and a tailor and is enjoying his freedom. Unable to force the issue, the viscount has no choice but to allow Cassandra to enter society. Her beauty and her fortune make her an instant success and she soon has an unexceptional suitor in the person of Lord Whitby, heir to an earldom.

The outcome is perhaps predictable, but getting there is fun. The pudgy, unprepossessing young man whom Cassandra recalls has become a lean and handsome man with an aura of determination and strength that seems lacking in the town dandies. Cassandra can no more understand why she feels jealous of the beauteous Mrs. Benningham any more than Christopher can understand why he has taken Lord Whitby into such dislike.

Both Christopher and Cassandra are likable characters. If there is any weakness in the characterization, it is in the author’s failure to make the hero as interesting as he could have been. Huntington does very little with the probable effect that eleven years in prison must have had on Christopher. He appears to adjust all too easily to his freedom, at least once the story gets underway.

Cassandra comes across as a bit spoiled and superficial, at least until the end of the story when she finds herself ensnared in the toils of the determined Lord Whitby. At this point, when she should have shown some strength, she becomes too passive. I would have liked her more had she been a bit more active.

All in all, Town Bronze is a most acceptable Regency romance. I have always enjoyed Huntington’s books and if this one is not among her best, it still provides a couple of hours of entertainment.

--Jean Mason

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