"Unique Regency is a definite Keeper"

I particularly liked this story because it was different from the usual regency plots. No rake despoiling the virginal debutant, no besotted pier mooning after a totally unsuitable girl. This is a story of long lost love, but unlike others of its ilk, this pair didn't waste years pining for each other. Fabienne and Adam have lived life to it's fullest apart and now have come full circle.

At seventeen Fabienne Argonac had been a young Frenchwoman of noble birth who had survived the terror in France and had just settled in England when she first met Adam Ashworth. Fabienne was lovestruck, and although she was aware that Adam was a rake and would soon tire of her, she soon succumbed to his seduction. Although Adam had played it cool, he too was bitten by the love bug, but through a mysterious interference (revealed later in the book) both are given to believe that the other had forsaken them.

Adam who had been betrothed at the time of the affair, married and had done the unfashionable thing and fallen in love with his wife. Now twenty years later he is widowed and has settled into the quiet life of a country gentleman.

Fabienne twice widowed is likewise unattached. She lives on the edge of the ton as a patroness of the arts whose salons have become wildly popular. The pair meets again when Adam's ward becomes obsessed with a young artist being sponsored by Fabienne. He deems the relationship to be completely unsuitable but Fabienne, still stinging from past betrayal, vehemently defends her protégé.

Rarely alone, Fabienne is nevertheless lonely. She finds something sympathetic in the works of a recent phenomenon, the reclusive writer Mrs. Ravenwood. Fabienne begins a correspondence which becomes quite intimate, and opens her heart and painful past to the writer. Mrs. Ravenwood is so sympathetic that Fabienne sets out to find her. The clues lead her to the country and Adam. Assuming that her confidant is Adam's mistress, she is crushed.

Adam who had once been a gift mathematician is actually the infamous Mrs. Ravenwood, although he would perish before revealing that scandalous fact. He realizes that he should have nipped their correspondence in the bud, had in fact tried to do so, but Fabienne's loneliness had struck a chord in him as well. Will his charade destroy any chance of winning back Fabienne's heart?

Fabienne has her secrets as well, and her letters to Mrs. Ravenworth may have revealed more that she should have shared. Who is Fabienne's mysterious protégé and who was responsible for tearing the pair apart all those years ago?

This engrossing story had enough plot for a single title novel and then some. The characters are real, complex, and emotional, seasoned by living, and more than ready to give love another chance. An excellent regency romance debut, this one is definitely a keeper.

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted November 5, 2006


For old time's sake

French aristocrat Fabienne Argonac Craigmont escaped the Reign of Terror—only to lose her head over the rakish Adam Ashworth. As she remembers it, he seduced and abandoned her; Adam, however, still feels the sting of her rejection. When a surprise meeting brings them together years later, he is a widowed, respectable country gentleman, and the innocent convent schoolgirl has become a sophisticated patroness of the arts, living on the bohemian outskirts of the ton.

Despite the popularity of her salon, Fabienne is lonely, and she begins a correspondence with the reclusive Mrs. Ravenwood, whose gothic novels have taken London by storm. When Fabienne goes in search of the authoress at her country home, she finds a very evasive Adam Ashworth instead—and concludes that Mrs. Ravenwood must be his mistress. And as their letters grow more intimate, Fabienne finds herself recklessly divulging long-held secrets—while her encounters with Adam leave her torn between distrust and desire....


by Janet Mullany

Signet (Regency)
September 1, 2005
ISBN #0451216369
EAN #9780451216366
224 pages
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