Julia London, Author . Pocket Star $6.99 (390p) ISBN 978-0-743

London (The Secret Lover , etc.) returns to her historical romance roots with this sprightly Regency. Determined to save his family's estate, Scottish Captain Liam Lockhart of the Royal Highland Regiment journeys to London to locate the jeweled statue that was misappropriated by the English Lockhart cousins almost 400 years earlier. Upon finding rooms at the home of stodgy Lord Farnsworth, Liam makes the acquaintance of Farnsworth's daughter, Ellen, and her nine-year-old child, Natalie. Ellen and Liam begin a friendship that deftly progresses to romance, but Liam's occupation as a soldier leaves little hope for the lovers' future. Marriage looks even more unlikely when Ellen steals the statue for her own purposes, leading Liam on a fast, frenzied chase across the country. London departs from the seriousness of her earlier historicals and instead offers a lighthearted tale full of comic encounters and entertaining verbal (and physical) battles. With its spry, sympathetic characters and skillfully woven plot, this vibrant tapestry holds a lot of promise not only for future installments in the Lockhart family saga, but for this gifted and versatile author. (Feb.)