James's delightful third installment in her successful Four Sisters Regency series (Much Ado About You; Kiss Me, Annabel) revolves around Imogen Maitland, the mischievous sister of Kiss Me, Annabel's titular heroine. Now a widow residing at Holbrook Court in Suffolk, England, Imogen lives under the care of her guardian, Rafe Jourdain, the stubborn, drunken duke of Holbrook charged with the parentless Essex sisters' care. As she clashes with the controlling, brutish Rafe, Imogen believes she is uninterested, but helping Rafe through painful alcohol detox helps spark the attraction between them. When Imogen meets Rafe's illegitimate half-brother, Gabe Spenser, however, she becomes determined to pursue an illicit affair with Gabe; soon, Rafe is impersonating Gabe—complete with a fake mustache—in a scandalous nighttime outing with Imogen that pushes them to the edge of temptation and forces Rafe to seriously consider the delicate proposition of seducing his own ward. Before long, Rafe becomes determined to pursue Imogen—for his wife. James's intelligent, believable dialogue rises above the often trite language found in historical romances, giving the characters depth and substance. James's considerable talents for clever prose and tight, breezy plotting are on full display, promising a perennial delight in each coming adventure of the Essex sisters. (Mar. 28)
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*Starred Review* Imogen Maitland designed her entire life around Draven Maitland, but only two weeks after their honeymoon, Draven died. A year later, Imogen is just beginning to entertain the thought of taking a lover when she meets Gabriel Spenser, the illegitimate half brother of her guardian, Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook. A Cambridge professor of divinity, Gabe shares Rafe's dark good looks, but, fortunately, he doesn't emulate Rafe's annoying habit of trying to direct Imogen's life or curb her taste for scotch. When Rafe agrees to host a theatrical production for Gabe at his estate, Imogen sets a plan in motion to get to know the sexy professor better only to discover that the only man she truly desires after all is the argumentative, stubborn, yet totally irresistible Rafe. RITA Award-winning James' latest addition to her Essex sisters series is truly delectable. James' writing is graceful and witty, her plot delightfully clever, and her characterization--including the captivating Miss Gillian Pythian-Adams--is nothing less than brilliant. John Charles
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