Lord Carlton's Courtship

Lord Mumford's Minx

A Bride for Lord Wickton
by Debbie Raleigh
(Zebra, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-8461-7
Three young English nobleman, on their way home from the war, save an old gypsy woman’s life. To reward them, she promises that each will find true love “before the summer again burns.” A Bride for Lord Wickton is the second installment in Raleigh’s trilogy about how the old gypsy’s blessing brings Lords Challmond, Wickton and Brasleigh true love. It is a most enjoyable Regency romance.

Obviously, none of these young men expect that romance will come knocking at their doors any time soon. Indeed, so certain are they that the gypsy’s promise will come to naught that they make a wager: should one of their number fall in love by summer, he will owe the other two £1000. Barth Juston, Earl of Wickton, is convinced that he will not have to pay the forfeit. He knows that soon, very soon, he will have to return to Kent to wed the young woman he has been promised to for years. Only by marrying Isa Lawford, the granddaughter of a wealthy merchant, can he repair the family fortune which has been wasted by his profligate father and his extravagant mother. But before he heads off to tie the noose around his neck, he plans to have some fun in London.

Barth’s charm and striking good looks make him quite a success with the London ladies. Even the lovely Monique, courtesan extraordinaire, is willing to overlook his limited funds and take him as her lover. But all good things must come to an end. Barth finally says good-bye to Monique and returns to Kent. There a surprise awaits him.

Five years ago, when he left for the army, Isa was his most fervent admirer. Indeed, Isa, who had tagged along after the young Barth, had seemed delighted with the idea of their marrying when she grew up. Imagine Barth’s surprise when he overhears Isa telling her mother that she will not marry the earl under any circumstances. Equally surprising is the fact that his sometimes annoying young friend has grown into a lovely woman. Barth is not pleased that Isa is bent on rejecting his suit, and not only because of the money.

Isa has every reason to reject the idea of marrying Lord Wickton. Her own mother had been married for her money, and Isa’s aristocratic father had abandoned his family to pursue a life of dissipation in London. Moreover, Isa had heard not a single word from Barth in the years since he left. She fears that should they marry, hers will be her mother’s fate. Moreover, she has met young Peter Effington, the son of the local vicar and a promising scholar. Peter’s serious nature seems to promise her the kind of marriage she wants.

Barth had spent the past five years resenting the fact that he would be forced to marry Isa. Now that Isa has told him that she won’t marry him, his attitude changes. Certainly, there are other rich young ladies who would be happy to marry the Earl of Wickton. But he wants Isa and so he embarks on a campaign to win her. But can he give her what she really wants, true love?

There are no spies or smugglers or intrigue in A Bride for Lord Wickton. There is simply a well told romance between an attractive hero and heroine who have to find their way to love. Debbie Raleigh writes entertaining Regencies. She creates well developed characters, both primary and secondary. She includes a nice dollop of gentle humor in her tale. While this is the first Raleigh Regency I have read, it won’t be my last. Now, I just hope that A Bride for Lord Challmond lurks somewhere on my to-be-read pile.

--Jean Mason

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