Avon, Apr 2008, $13.95
In 1819 the "Upper Ten Thousand” male aristocracy members are irate that the Widow Penelope Norman has challenged them for their sensual excesses; she was sick of her late spouse’s philandering and assumers other women detest their husbands’ unfaithfulness. The Upper Ten Thousand choose a duke wastrel Jeremy Vaughn to end Penelope’s campaign.
Although he prefers to stay out of the mess, the challenge to his pride is too great from friends he has known seemingly forever; so Jeremy agrees to end the reign of terror. He figures the easiest means to achieve success is seduce and blackmail Penelope into silence. In daylight Jeremy becomes a friend of Penelope; at night he sneaks into her bedroom wearing a mask. He accomplishes his mission, but feels like he lost the war as he has fallen in love with passionate prude.
The changing relationship between Jeremy and Penelope make for an entertaining Regency romance in which EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN becomes SOMETHING RECKLESS but worth pursuing. The lead couple makes this a fine read as he starts as a cad and she as a crusading prude; over time respect and ultimately love flourishes. However, she loathes the overindulgences of the Upper Ten Thousand at the cost of women and children while he is a card carrying member. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of just who seduced whom.