Pamela Britton, Author . Warner $5.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-61129-9

Though Britton's newest Regency-era romp (following Enchanted by Your Kisses) doesn't begin with the words "Once upon a time," it has a fairy-tale quality that will easily disarm readers. The book's unlikely Prince Charming is Lucien St. Aubyn, who's been dubbed the Duke of Death and the Rake of Ravenwood—the former because people close to him tend to die (including his father and brother) and the latter because he enjoys debauching innocent young women. The one woman he can't seem to seduce is Elizabeth Montclair, the lowborn daughter of a cobbler-turned-earl. Elizabeth loathes Lucien, but when they're caught together without a chaperone, she's forced to marry him to save her reputation. The marriage of convenience is an overused historical romance device, but Britton's plucky characters keep the story fresh with their comic repartee and sensual battle of wills. Unfortunately, the novel takes an improbable turn when Lucien is charged with the murder of his older brother. This twist allows the protagonists to resolve their trust issues, but it also makes for an overly dramatic (albeit suspenseful) finale. Still, this delightful tale outshines many romances of its ilk, and the protagonists' spry wit and comic antics will have readers on the floor in stitches. (Apr.)

Forecast:A cover quote from Amanda Quick should help this burgeoning talent build her readership.

Reviewed on: 03/03/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
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