The Dangerous Debutante
by Kasey Michaels
(HQN Books, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-77151-7
When I started reading The Dangerous Debutante, I didnít have very high hopes for it. The blurb on the back begins:

What makes a lady? Morgan Becket wouldnít know. The scandalous debutante is being sent off to London to have her first Season in hopes a gentleman will finally tame her.
And it goes downhill from there.

I doubt that Iím very different from most other romance readers at the bookstore. Iíll pick up a book with a cover I wonít be too embarrassed to be seen holding; Iíll read the blurb on the back wondering if the plot interests me.

If Iíd been doing my usual thing with this book, it would have been returned to the shelf immediately.

So my advice to romance readers is: Donít read this blurb! This story is a lot more charming and entertaining than the blurb would have you believe. Plus, itís not even a decent summary of the characters and the plot.

Morgan Becket is on her way from her family home in Romney Marsh on the English coast to London for the Season. She will be staying with her brother Chance and his wife Julia, who were first introduced in A Gentleman By Any Other Name, the previous book about this family. Her small party includes Jacob, a servant. They make an overnight stop at an inn.

The next morning Morgan spies a beautiful white stallion in the yard. His owner is Ethan Tanner, Earl of Aylesford. Ethan and Morgan are powerfully attracted from the very first moment. Ethan has reservations about the security of her escort into the city so he takes her first to his home where she meets his mother. As they ride together, they become acquainted, and the mutual attraction grows.

By the time Ethan delivers Morgan to her brotherís door, their fate is sealed. Even so, Morgan cannot help wondering if this is really love and there are family secrets she dare not reveal.

Over the years, the focus of many romance novels has drifted away from the romance and onto suspense, adventure, or a mix with some other plot-driven genre in fiction. The Dangerous Debutante is a romance novel where the romance is the central focus theme of the story. Thereís one scene at a society ball (depicted in the step-back cover) thatís particularly romantic in a way thatís rarely seen anymore.

The Dangerous Debutante is a romance where the intelligent, appealing hero and heroine meet, fall in love almost at first sight, and remain committed to each other throughout. Theyíre both strong characters and ideally matched. (Theyíre also phenomenally good looking, but romance readers should be used to that.) Over 350 pages they fall deeper and deeper into love so that when Ethan says to Morgan, ďWe will marry. We have to. I canít imagine my life without you in it.Ē I believed it.

Except for a late entry, relatively unimportant subplot about Ethan and Chance, the War Office and the possibility of war with France and the young United States, the plot synopsis above is reasonably comprehensive. The characters from the first novel play significant roles in this one, but it isnít necessary to have read the first to understand and enjoy the second.

This is a rarity: The Dangerous Debutante is a romance novel Iím recommending because of the romance. Imagine that.

One more thing: if youíve been wondering what makes Morgan The Dangerous Debutante, donít waste your time. Itís just a silly, meaningless title someone dumped on a lovely romance. Just ignore it.

And donít read that blurb!

--Lesley Dunlap

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