Although Wiggs's newest (after The Firebrand) is set in Washington, D.C., during the late 19th century, there's a flavor of Regency England to this delightful romp. Wiggs takes the usual Regency personas—a rake, a feisty heroine, snobbish society members and a dressmaker as gifted as any fairy godmother—and instills them with depth and complexity. Abigail Cabot, the daughter of a senator and sister of a reigning beauty, is made clumsy by a deformed foot that she desperately tries to hide, especially from the object of her hidden affections, Lt. Boyd Butler, the vice-president's son. When Jamie Calhoun, a newly elected congressman with a dark secret in his past, discovers Abigail's feelings, he sets out to further the romance and win the political support of her father and the vice-president by transforming her into a desirable high society swan. The mousy Abigail turns out to have unsuspected dimensions, including a sharp mind, a quick tongue and a steadfast devotion to astronomy. Readers won't be surprised to find that the real romance develops between Abby and Jamie; the fun is seeing them fight both each other and their feelings every step of the way. With its lively prose, well-developed conflict and passionate characters, this enjoyable, poignant tale is certain to enchant. (Oct.)
Forecast:Wiggs has several bestsellers and two Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards under her belt, and this sterling effort will likely earn her another RITA Award. National radio and print advertising, strong word of mouth and an attractive, starry cover will help the novel appeal to a broader readership.