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Publisher: Avon Books 
Release Date: July 29, 2003 
ISBN: 0-06-050354-8 
Format Reviewed: Softcover  
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Genre: Romance - Historical - Regency
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson 
Reviewer Notes:  Reviewer Kristin Johnson will release her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in September 2003. Visit to pre-order. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.

Once A Scoundrel
By Candice Hern

       A ne'er-do-well gambler wins ownership of a ladies' magazine in a card game in Regency England, and clashes with the magazine's editor, an idealist who (gasp) supported the spirit of the French Revolution, secretly funds schools for illiterate prostitutes, and sniffs at women's fashion.

       Oh, and this unlikely pair happens to have grown up together. Edwina Parrish, the feminist reformer and ex-tomboy, is sorely disappointed in Anthony Morehouse, the dissolute gambler and still-sensitive boy she once knew. Turns out, Eddie did quite a bit of wagering when she and Anthony played together. Anthony, who is, of course, smitten with Edwina, bets her that she can't double her subscriptions in three months. If she can, she'll own the magazine her aunt started as an amusing fashionable and gossip rag. For independent Edwina, this wager is too good to resist.

     Anthony's new magazine, The Ladies' Fashionable Cabinet, is the Marie Claire or Vanity Fair of its day, minus the fashion reports. Edwina labors under the illusion that so many of today's feminists still do: you can't be into the latest high-society or haut ton fashion and still write reviews on Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Fortunately, Anthony, who's feeling the need to break out of his role of good-for-nothing privileged son, actively tries to help Edwina---not without a few wagers of course---for example, appointing as her new editor Flora Gallagher, the Heidi Fleiss of the day. The notorious courtesan becomes Edwina's ally and best friend, and even more shocking, Flora, who once happily served as one of Anthony's rebellions against his father, encourages Edwina to succumb to Anthony's charms.

     Will Edwina lose the wager by losing her heart to Anthony? Or is the wager an irrelevant plot device, like the ridiculous and expected falling-out between Anthony and Edwina just before the hero proves his love and the heroine realizes her pride (and prejudice) got in the way? The predictable-but-fun romp into publishing and steamy romance contains a little gem of wisdom on the merits of both beauty and brains.