cover image The Last Debutante

The Last Debutante

Julia London. Pocket, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7548-4

London’s 1811 Scottish Highlands romance is atmospheric but cloying. Gently bred 21-year-old Daria Babcock, the last unmarried young woman in her social circle, travels to Scotland, ostensibly on a family mission to bring money to her grandmother. After Daria’s chaperone deserts her, she arrives at the addled matriarch’s cottage and finds one room occupied by an unconscious Scotsman with a gunshot wound. When Jamie Campbell awakens, Daria does her best to care for him while figuring out why he’s in her grandmother’s house. The sensual connection between Jamie and Daria feels manufactured rather than organic, but detailed characterization encourages the reader to fill in the blanks. London (The Seduction of Lady X) brings a smooth, flowing cadence to the story, right up until a hasty, unfinished ending that leaves several threads dangling in the heather-scented wind, undoubtedly to be explored in future books. Agent: Jenny Bent, the Bent Agency. (Mar.)