Robert Hale  -  2000 
ISBN 0-7090-6585-X  - Hardback
A Regency Romance 

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde, MyShelf.Com

Prudence Mallow is a shy country miss of twenty-four whom, with her mother comes to live with her Uncle Clarence in London after the death of her impecunious father.  Clarence paints portraits of anybody of middle class or above who will sit for him; only not for money of course as that would mean he was in trade.  Prudence contributes to the family coffers when she writes three novels that sell moderately well at first but when the literary lions find out how good they are (rather akin to those of Jane Austen) they start selling very well indeed.  Prudence finds herself quite in the limelight and thrown together increasingly with the premier poet of the day Lord Dammler. He is a Byronic figure fresh from his round-the-world travels, shatteringly handsome, worldly and sporting an eye patch.  Prudence unwittingly becomes his confidant and he seeks both her advice and her friendship - but she wants something very different to that! 

Joan Smith is a writer with over a hundred books to her credit, many of them Regency romances and a short series of Regency whodunits.  This is a reprint from 1978 and a particularly entertaining one, being highly amusing in places as Prudence's innocent remarks get taken for great wit and her uncle's belief that he is far more skilled at painting than even the most exalted Old Masters is consistently funny.  There is a lot of humor here which is always refreshing in a work of light romantic fiction - novels of this kind that take themselves too seriously tend to give the genre a bad name.  Ms Smith is fairly adept at characterization and dialogue and the story is just the right length. 

One to read, chuckle over and enjoy. 

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