cover image THE ORPHAN


Stella Cameron, . . Mira, $6.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-55166-883-3

Set in 1823, Cameron's newest historical romance (after 7B) revisits the clutch of characters who wrestle with both danger and true love in the London town house of 7 Mayfair Square. Crabby ghost Sir Spivey has schemed with mixed results to rid his home of paying boarders, and this time his victim is Latimer More, known as "the Most Daring Lover in England." Latimer has set his sights on Jenny McBride, a spirited millinery assistant who Latimer believes will happily become "his unquestioning supporter in every decision, every endeavor" when he marries her and rescues her from poverty. Irrationally, Jenny resists Latimer's overtures because she believes he will be repelled when he learns of her oily landlord's plot to sell her to a wealthy patron. Characters from the earlier Mayfair Square adventures put in their two cents and Jenny's landlord continues his stalking, but the focus remains on Latimer and Jenny's romantic fireworks, which culminate in a sensual grand finale that showcases Latimer's virility. By far one of the strongest entries in this disjointed series, Cameron's latest boasts tight plotting and consistent characterizations. Even a few loose ends—such as Jenny's unhappiness that she must leave her millinery job upon her marriage—do not tarnish the overall shine of this polished romance. (Mar.)

Forecast:Cameron's brand-name recognition coupled with an aggressive print and radio advertising campaign will foster strong and steady sales, but this lusty historical is unlikely to match the best-selling heights of her contemporary romantic suspense novels due to the series' inconsistency and its inclusion of the paranormal.