Like a Diamond

Malcolm MacDonald, Author, MacDonald, Author, Malcolm Ross-Macdonald, Author
Malcolm MacDonald, Author, MacDonald, Author, Malcolm Ross-Macdonald, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-20557-7
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In veteran writer Macdonald's latest, beautiful and saucy parlor maid Gemma Penhallow attracts the eye of the handsome young master of the house, Peter de Vivian. In fact, their mutual attraction is so strong that Peter actually shakes Gemma's hand upon their first meeting; in 1910 Cornwall, this is a scandal! And it's not the only worrisome situation in the family, since Peter's unmarried, 19- year-old sister, Beatrice, is already in danger of spinsterhood. If she must marry, the rebellious Beatrice declares, she wants to find a ""wicked lord... a rogue"" for a spouse. Though Peter has only honorable intentions from the first, it takes a long time to convince Gemma of his devotion; her twin, Ruby, was ruined when she was seduced by the young master where she was employed. Peter finally declares his love during the London Season, where Gemma has accompanied the family as lady's maid. Here, more adventures are afoot, as the de Vivians deal with the death of King Edward and the ""new people"" with commercial money, who are intruding upon their exclusive society. Peter begins to gamble and has a small ""affaire,"" finds fitting mates both for Gemma's sister and Beatrice, and risks his family's wrath by getting to know Gemma better. When the French maid reveals the liaison, Peter's snooty mother hatches a clever plan to nip this romance in the bud. The resourceful pair discover a surprising piece of information that will ensure that the ""mater and pater"" accept and bless the ultimate marriage. Again, Macdonald delivers a smoothly written historical novel with nicely delineated characters, expert pacing and vivid setting. (June)
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