Annabella's Diamond

Balmorrow's Bride

Camilla's Fate

A Devilish Dilemma

Lord Nightingale's Debut

Lord Nightingale's Love Song

Mutiny at Almacks

A Season of Virtues

Lord Nightingale’s Triumph
by Judith A. Lansdowne
(Zebra, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-6704-6
Readers who have been following the adventures of the Lord Nightingale, that most unusual parrot, will undoubtedly want to read Lord Nightingale’s Triumph. After all, we finally discover what the bird means when he keeps saying “Knollsmarmer”. But I find I cannot recommend the book unequivocally because I believe that anyone who has not read the first two installments of will find this story very difficult to follow. This is ever a danger when an author creates a series with continuing characters, although it is somewhat mitigated in this case because Zebra chose to release the Nightingale books one right after another.

In Lord Nightingale’s Love Song we met Edward, Marquess of Bradford, who was on a quest to find his missing twin brother, Peter. The two had been separated when their mother, the Duchess of Sotherland, had left her husband and taken her younger son with her. Bradford had come to the village of Wicken where he was “recognized” by Miss Mary Butterby, the daughter of the local vicar. She called him “Peter!” It turned out that two years earlier, Mary had fallen in love with one Peter Winthrop, who had left the village under a cloud.

In Triumph, Peter has returned to the village, but with a nefarious purpose. He has come to kidnap Lord Nightingale from the Earl of Wickenshire’s home. By a coincidence never fully explained, Mary has decided that very night to head off to London to find her beloved. The two end up seeking shelter in the same barn. Peter wants Mary to return home, but the determined young lady is having none of that. She insists on accompanying Peter to London or else she will tell the earl about the parrot-napping.

Thus, the two set off for London, with Mary’s father and the earl in pursuit. Peter finally confesses to Mary his dreadful secret. Four years earlier, when he was 18, he accidentally caused the death of the man he and his mother were living with. He had blamed the man for his mother’s death. Ever since, Quinn’s men had been pursuing him. He had taken the job of kidnapping Lord Nightingale to earn enough money to sail for India.

Caught by their pursuers - all of them - Mary is sent home while Peter travels on to London to discover who wanted the parrot and why. By the time the book is over, all is revealed, brothers are united, lovers are brought together, the duke is humanized thanks to the precocious Delight, Lady Wickenshire’s little sister, and the mystery of “Knollsmarmer” is finally solved.

One does not read Judith Lansdowne’s books for their well-crafted plots. She has a habit of depending on improbable coincidences that is very much in evidence here. Rather, one reads these books for the entertaining characters and for the humor. Both are likewise very much in evidence in Lord Nightingale’s Triumph.

Much of the humor centers on Lord Nightingale, who is a most amusing creation. Likewise, Lansdowne is very good at creating slapstick comedy in many of her scenes. She also offers some nice, gentle humor, particularly when Delight humanizes the grumpy duke. Mary is an attractive and determined young lady. She gave her heart to Peter and she refuses to accept that she can not have the man she loves. Peter is a hero with lots of hurts in his past. He is still young - only 22 - and his youth makes his behavior more understandable. In addition, Lansdowne integrates all the characters from the other “Nightingale” books into her tale quite nicely.

Thus, if you are a Lansdowne fan - which I am - and if you have read the first two books in this series, then you should certainly read Triumph. But if you are unfamiliar with her style and her books, this is probably not the place to start.

--Jean Mason

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