The Devil in Disguise

The Sinner Who Seduced Me

 
The Saint Who Stole My Heart
by Stefanie Sloane
(Ballantine, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0345531148
***
The Saint Who Stole My Heart is a likable enough novel, but there’s little to set it apart from the glut of Regency-set hero-as-spy novels of the past five years. Dashiell “Dash” Matthews and his friends are members of the Young Corinthians, a spy network based in London. Their deepest wish is to find a murderer called The Bishop, who was responsible for the death of Lady Afton twenty years ago. Lady Afton was a beloved mother figure to them all. Lord Afton was also a member of the Corinthians, and the Bishop targets the loved ones of the spy network.

Dash has a brilliant mind, especially in deciphering codes and puzzles, but he also has an exceedingly handsome face. Since his looks won’t allow him to blend into a crowd, he acts like a foppish dolt to hide his activities. He can move freely among Society, since nobody believes he has any brains to speak of.

Problems arise with the arrival of Elena Barnes, daughter of Baron Harcourt, to whom Dash’s late father promised his library of rare books. Elena will catalogue the library and see to its shipment to the baron. Dash, who is also Viscount Carrington, is immediately attracted to Elena’s lush beauty but needs to keep up his vapid act. The problem is, when he’s around her he keeps forgetting. Elena, who initially dismisses Dash as handsome but brainless, notices that he’s not always as addled as he seems to be.

Lady Mowbray, Dash’s aunt, is in attendance as a chaperone to Elena. She is determined to make up for Elena’s one disastrous Season, in which she didn’t take due to her curvaceous – some might say plump – figure. If she can act as a matchmaker and find Elena a suitable husband, so much the better. In fact, Dash might be an excellent choice. But if Dash and Elena fall in love, the Bishop will make her the next target…

Elena and Dash are likable, and their romance is sweet. Dash is especially fun, as he finds himself trapped by his own disguise. On the one hand, Elena sees through him and they find they have a great deal in common, plus he thinks her figure is perfect. On the other hand, if he gets too close to her, it might endanger her life. What’s a hero to do?

Elena is more mature than the typical bluestocking heroine, which is a bit of a relief. Bluestockings have an annoying tendency to uber-independence, often with the result that they need constant rescuing. Not here. Elena is fully aware of her limitations and doesn’t hesitate to ask Dash for help. I enjoyed her.

The Saint Who Stole My Heart is the fourth in the “Regency Rogues” series about the Young Corinthians. This book would have received higher marks, but the author spends a lot of time setting up the next stories in this series. The prologue introduces one character that vanishes out of the story, never to be seen again, and some of the plot threads are left hanging. Not having read the first three books, I was at a bit of a loss. Readers won’t get a neat resolution to the mystery, either, and that’s a bit frustrating.

Overall, it’s an entertaining story with yet another spy network, but at least the lead characters are fun. A hero who’s a bit too handsome for his own good and a heroine with smarts to spare – that’s a pretty good combination.

--Cathy Sova


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