cover image Lord Sebastian’s Secret

Lord Sebastian’s Secret

Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4926-2162-1

Ashford’s third Duke’s Sons Regency (after What the Duke Doesn’t Know) introduces more delightful characters who feel appropriate to the period while dealing with challenges that resonate with the modern reader. She seasons the story with plenty of teasing brotherly warmth and good-natured hijinks in the name of love. Soldier and self-proclaimed dullard Lord Sebastian Gresham travels to the country home of his clever betrothed, Georgina Stane, and is welcomed by her distracted mother’s roving pack of pugs, an elegant guest from India brought in to indulge her father’s current obsession with reincarnation, and two younger sisters intent on pushing Georgina and Sebastian’s wedding date up in the hopes of a quicker escape to their sister’s future London household. Sebastian navigates the challenges of the Stane family with ease but fears humiliation if Georgina and her family discover that he cannot read. Ashford’s vivid characters and lively plots that drop surprise adventures in the midst of courting give the series a spirit of fun. The underlying message, that quirks and struggles should be no impediment to familial or romantic love, is conveyed with warmth and tenderness. (Jan.)