Teresa Medeiros, . . Avon, $7.50 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-06-051364-1

The plot of Medeiros's newest Regency (after A Kiss to Remember) is far from new—a lively new wife turns her husband's household topsy-turvy but aligns everyone's hearts—but Medeiros brings a confidence and keen pacing to her story that lifts it above other such tales. Lottie Fairleigh, an aspiring Gothic novelist known as the Hertfordshire Hellion, finds herself in another scrape when she's discovered kissing Hayden St. Clair, the "Murderous Marquess," just before her coming-out ball. But for the first time, Lottie can't talk her way out of trouble, and she's swiftly married and packed off to Cornwall, where the ghost of the marquess's supposedly murdered first wife haunts the mansion. Faced with a bratty stepdaughter and deprived of the comfort of her new husband's arms—and bed—Lottie believes the ghost is the least of her problems... or perhaps the key to solving them. Lottie's damn-the-torpedoes spirit and flights of Northanger Abbey–like fancy form this romance's sparkling core. The marquess, while just as sympathetic, has only to be shown the errors of his ways by Lottie's adventurous example. In both humorous and sensual scenes, veteran writer Medeiros's talent touches every page, making this romance glisten like gold. (Aug.)