Cupboard Kisses

A Debt to Delia

The Diamond Key

The Duel

Lord Heartless

The Hourglass

Love, Louisa

Miss Lockhart's Letters

Miss Treadwell's Talent

Miss Westlake's Windfall

The Painted Lady

Saved by Scandal

Wedded Bliss

A Worthy Wife

Truly Yours
by Barbara Metzger
(Signet, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0451-22205-3
This romance set during the Regency era is set apart by the wit, light-hearted romance and the rather unique twists. Truly Yours is easy to recommend.

The males in the Royce family have been granted the gift of truth-seeing. Just like those in the Middle Ages, this gift allowed them to recognize when a person was telling the truth or a lie. It was a difficult gift to manage and one that had to be kept secret, because even in the enlightened time of the 1800’s people did not understand this gift. Lord Royce could tell the truth was being stated by the musical notes he heard. One man sensed his gift through smell. Daniel, a cousin, got a horrible rash when the lies were told and our hero, Captain Rexford Royce, saw colors. He and Daniel teamed up and were invaluable in the war effort. Of course they had to lie and say they used torture to maintain other’s willingness to believe them. But the war office knew and trusted their talent.

Lord Royce had tried to use his gift as a judge, but he was unlucky in love. His countess did not trust him and at times, feared him. They had a misunderstanding and she left him and their son Rex when he was just a young boy. Then Royce came up against an upstart attorney, Sir Nigel Turlow. Royce left the bench rather than defend his unorthodox style, making an enemy of Turlow. With this history, Rex vowed not to marry so he could avoid bring a son into the world who would have to bear the same type of pain.

After getting injured, Rex is now at the country estate and is wallowing a bit in self-pity. Daniel is using gin to forestall his feelings of guilt that he allowed Rex to get hurt. Royce is ill and he too, is hiding in the country. But then the word comes from the countess that help is needed.

Amanda Carville is the granddaughter of an Earl and has been living with her stepfather and his two children since her mother passed away. Her stepfather is a man with aspirations and he is a miser. He is giving his daughter Elaine a season, only so she can capture a rich man. He is squandering all of Amanda’s dowry and inheritance on unwise investments. When Amanda finds out that he is purposely ruining her chances of marriage by sullying her name, she argues with him. Later that evening, she returned home from the ball early and found him dead in his den, with the murder weapon at his side. The butler enters just as she picks up the gun. Amanda is accused of murder and taken off to Newgate. Turlow is the prosecutor and thrilled to see a protégé of the Royce family in trouble. The only person who might help her is her godmother, Lady Royce. Lady Royce turns to her son and the stage is set for Rex and Amanda to meet and fall in love.

There were several things I liked about this book. There was an almost tongue-in-cheek feeling around most of the conflict. Neither Rex nor Amanda took themselves too seriously, adding a flavor of fun that is often missing when someone’s life is on the line. The characters are all just a tad quirky too. There is an element of chaos, adding to the madcap quality, along with the pacing of the story.

Daniel is a lovable bear, while being a bit of a buffoon. He is also highly intelligent and one wonders what his future holds for him. The family curse is a chore for Rex, yet he does relish being involved in investigations. He and Amanda are well matched. They are smart and at times, almost too clever for themselves. Their interplay was the best part of the tale.

The downside to the story is the actual mystery of who killed Amanda’s stepfather. The plot is rather convoluted and at times, the details and varied characters almost bog down the story. There are some familiar lines taken, such as when Amanda decides she can ruin her reputation without worry since she is going to be hanged anyway…ho hum. Been there, done that. It is only the pacing and the sense of adventure that keeps the tale from becoming mundane and pushes it up the ratings scale.

Overall, Barbara Metzger has written an engaging and delightful love story. On the one hand, there is nothing new. On the other hand, there is a refreshing sense of fun that permeates and makes Truly Yours a story to enjoy.

--Shirley Lyons

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