cover image The Husband List

The Husband List

Victoria Alexander. Avon Books, $7.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-380-80631-7

Alexander (The Wedding Bargain) has a marvelous ear for witty dialogue and creates winning characters. Unfortunately, the plot of this otherwise terrific Regency rides includes twin clich s: a will with an outrageous stipulation and a hero masquerading as another man (think Scarlet Pimpernel). Widowed Lady Gillian Marley persuades friends to draw up a list of bachelors so she can fulfill the condition of her uncle's will that she marry before her 30th birthday to inherit 600,000. The money would augment her small income and enable her to fund a home for deserving female artists. Topping the list is the impoverished Earl of Shelbrooke, Richard Shelton, once a rake, now living a double life (he's an oil painter, a shocking calling for an aristocrat), trying to shore up the little that's left of the family fortune and provide dowries for four sisters. Will the earl lower himself for cold, hard cash? Will the lovely Gillian settle for a loveless marriage of convenience? The sex gets hot and heavy before the final answer in this delightful read. (Aug.)