Victoria Alexander, Author . Avon $6.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-051763-2

While Alexander's many fans will snatch up her latest romance featuring the irrepressible Effington family (The Pursuit of Marriage , etc.), newcomers may wonder what all the fuss is about. In this lusterless Victorian-era novel, Nicholas Collingsworth casts away the burgeoning affection of Elizabeth Effington so that she can marry his best friend, then departs to make his fortune abroad. When Nicholas returns to London 10 years later, Elizabeth is a lovely young widow, and he pledges to correct his mistake by winning her heart and hand. With few genuine obstacles to contend with besides Elizabeth's pride and stubbornness, Nicholas's campaign lacks tension. A possible threat to their happiness springs out of nowhere four-fifths of the way through, providing momentary excitement, but it fizzles out before its dramatic potential is explored. Elizabeth's impulsiveness adds some sparks, but when she throws a vase for the third time in a fit of bad temper—this time a priceless Ming aimed directly at Nicholas's head and flung "with all her strength"—readers may wonder if Nicholas should wait 10 more years for the lady to grow up. One shining beacon is Alexander's dialogue, which screenwriters might envy for its rat-a-tat zing. But those seeking surprises should pass up this bland holiday offering. Agent, Meg Ruley. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/22/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Hardcover - 477 pages - 978-0-7862-8059-9
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