cover image The Marriage Contract

The Marriage Contract

Cathy Maxwell / Author Avon Books $7.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-380-

The sympathetic protagonists and engaging writing style characteristic of Maxwell's Regency romances will ensure that her latest (following Because of You, Falling In Love Again) will be well received by newcomers and loyal readers alike. Set in 1815, the narrative unfolds as plucky Anne Burnett, an impoverished orphan, is married by proxy to the Mad Earl Tiebauld, Aidan Black, and sent to Castle Kelwin in Scotland to tell him the news. Handsome, powerful and eccentric (but hardly ""mad""), Aidan is less than thrilled when he discovers that his sister arranged the marriage. Although he tries to send her back to London, stubborn, resourceful Anne digs in, winning over his clan. Slowly Aidan's life changes from the inside out, and he begins to doubt if he wants to send her back after all. Amusing and romantic by turns, the relationship is further complicated by a subplot involving a band of Jacobite rebels with whom Aidan becomes entangled, but the affair between the two sparring equals remains paramount. Despite the addition of an epilogue and an afterword, both unnecessary after such a well-wrought tale, this is a delicious read from an accomplished Regency author. (Feb.) Forecast: Maxwell mixes humor with meticulous characterization to create memorable stories. Since she's not the most prolific romance writer, her fans will be eager to get their hands on this rewarding Regency, though a generic cover doesn't add much to the book's appeal.