cover image My Fair Princess

My Fair Princess

Vanessa Kelly. Zebra, $5.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-4201-4109-2

Kelly’s Improper Princesses Regency series opens gallantly with well-thought-out characters, madcap adventures, and London’s cunning, cagey elite. Gillian Dryden’s royal bloodline can’t completely make up for her illegitimate birth and wild upbringing in Sicily. She becomes a target of Sicilian bandits and is brought back to England to be safely schooled in refinement and married off. Charles, Duke of Leverton, who’s known as Perfect Penley, grudgingly agrees to be her social tutor. After Gillian assaults a boorish earl and shoots a robber, she is further tarnished socially. Gillian’s continued recklessness and lack of decorum challenge Charles, and she begins to chip away at his controlled life. Gillian’s antics imbue her story with energy and some intrigue, but the most affecting part of Kelly’s tale is Charles’s development as he falls in love with Gillian and breaks free of complacency and propriety. This is a fun ride with a colorful, adventurous heroine and a happily disconcerted, formerly perfect hero. Agent: Evan Marshall, Evan Marshall Agency. (Sept.)