The Bluestocking On His Knee
by Regina Scott
(Zebra, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-821-76209-5
**
The Bluestocking On his Knee starts out with an unusual premise. Mr. Kevin Whattling, noted ladies man, finds himself penniless. He's engaged in too many bouts of drinking, gambling, and whoring, resulting in the death of his younger brother and his own financial ruin. But all is not lost. Kevin possesses an inordinate amount of charm and good looks. All he needs to do, he reasons, is to marry an heiress. None will suit better than Miss Eugennia Welch.

Jenny has the wealth, but not the suitors. Tall, older (she's 26) and possessing a fine mind more inclined to study insects or stars than dance cards, her unmarried state has not concerned her until now. Jenny secretly dreams of the man who danced with her at last winter's ball. If only he'd come to her door and declare his intent to marry her.

Of course, that's exactly what happens. Kevin arrives, re-introduces himself, and bluntly explains that he intends to marry Jenny. Jenny wants to be loved for herself. And what of the mysterious George Safton, who was instrumental in the death of Kevin's brother? He's up to no good and wants to see Kevin ruined. Jenny will provide a convenient target.

I was not able to connect with this story. Kevin seemed to be immature and irresponsible. He's created his own mess, and the only way out of it that he can see is to charm some woman out of her fortune. What's to admire in that? It's not like he has a title he needs to protect while "of good family," Kevin is pretty much a nobody except for his looks and cutting a dashing figure. Jenny was more likable in that she doesn't hesitate to use her intelligence, but even so, she turns into mush over Kevin. His much-vaunted "charm" didn't charm this reader. As a hero, he was quite a bit less than heroic.

The secondary plot involving Mr. Safton was confusing, to say the least. I was never quite sure why he wanted to ruin Kevin, as he spent a lot of time pondering on his need to keep Kevin's patronage. Since Kevin holds no title and neither does Jenny, their instant admittance to Almacks and the best parties seemed forced. A penniless man of no particular importance would not have been on the mamas' short list of top marriage candidates, no matter how good-looking. And Jenny has wads of cash, but the reader isn't clued into her background, so her easy acceptability to Society is confusing.

Technically, the book was well-written. The writing can't cover for the plot weaknesses, however, and I can't recommend The Bluestocking On His Knee. Bring me a Regency hero I can root for.

--Cathy Sova


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