The Wolfe's Mate

 
Miss Jesmond’s Heir by Paula Marshall
(Harlequin, $4.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-51151-5
****
Harlequin appears to have a treasure trove at its disposal when it comes to Regency romances. Thanks to the intricacies of global corporations, the company owns the rights to the Mills and Boon books published first in Britain. In July, they published the second set of four Regency romances originally released across the water. Regency fans, rejoice and make sure you find these books so that Harlequin keeps providing them to the North Atlantic market.

Miss Jesmond’s Heir is a sequel to Paula Marshall’s book, The Wolf’s Mate. The hero, Jesmond Fitzroy, was financier Ben Wolf’s right hand man and a most intriguing character. Handsome, charming, clever, and when necessary devious, he makes a fine romance hero. Fitzroy has just inherited an estate from his great-aunt, Miss Jesmond. Having amassed his own fortune and become tired of London life, he heads off Nottinghamshire to become a country gentleman.

Georgina Herron, known familiarly as Georgie, has returned to her childhood home of Pomfert Hall, near the town of Netherton to help her also widowed sister-in-law, Caro with her children and her financial difficulties. While Georgie was left quite comfortable by her elderly husband, Caro’s position is less happy. Apparently bad investments by her late husband and father-in-law have left the Pomferts hard pressed. It doesn’t help that Caro has retreated to her couch since her husband’s demise.

Georgie meets “Miss Jesmond’s Heir” one fine afternoon when she is playing cricket with her niece and nephew on one of his fields. Since Georgie has dressed in her late brother’s clothes for the game and since Fitzroy is shocked by her apparel, their first encounter does not go well. When the two meet more formally at the Pomfert dinner table, Fitzroy discovers that “Mrs. Georgie” is a most attractive a witty young woman. However, he concludes that perhaps Mrs. Pomfert, with her languishing airs and proper behavior would be a more suitable choice as a wife.

Fitzroy has taken on the character of a frivolous man of fashion; he wants to keep the neighborhood in the dark about his real financial status. Everyone, including the pompous Banker Bowlby, falls for his pose with the banker especially delighted that another “customer” for the plucking has come into view. Georgie, however, concludes that there is more to “Miss Jesmond’s heir” than meets the eye. Certainly she responds to his presence and his subtle remarks in a surprising fashion.

Marshall centers her non-romance story on the machinations of Banker Bowlby and Fitzroy’s determination to ferret out why his aunt’s once prosperous estate has fallen into ruin. There is also an interesting mystery as to why the Home Secretary is interested in Fitzroy’s activities. Does it have to do with his uncertain ancestry?

Miss Jesmond’s Heir has everything a Regency fan could want. It has a well drawn picture of country society with a plethora of interesting secondary characters. It has mystery and intrigue. It has a charming romance between an unusual hero and heroine.

I certainly hope that Harlequin keeps on publishing these British Regencies on a regular basis. So far, all have been most enjoyable.

--Jean Mason


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