ISBN: 978-0-345-53869-7 - Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-440-24547-6  e-Book
May 2013
Historical Romance (reprint of classics)

Regency Period

At a garden party, young Lady Sophia Bryant declares to her friends Cynthia, Dorothy, Peter, Francis, and Marmaduke that she will never marry. Her parents separated when she was four years old, so she knows marriage brings nothing but unhappiness. Her papa has brought her to London for the season expecting her to make a match, but her mother remained in her home of Rushton where her father never goes. If her parents have remained married all this time, the group thinks the two should try to mend their relationship. At this point, a rash plan hatches. Sophia will have a pretend engagement, forcing her parents together to plan the wedding, which will then lead to their reconciliation. But engaged to whom? Her childhood nemesis, Lord Francis Sutton, who has been listening to the group's talk, volunteers to be the pretend fiancé. Since their match is most unlikely, and no marriage will result at the end, the plan should work.

Olivia agrees to come to her husband's home at Clifton Court. She has not seen Marcus, the love of her life, in fourteen years. Will he have changed much? Has she? Marcus, the Earl of Clifton, is eager to see his wife, apprehensive, desperate, and still in love despite rumors that claim Lady Mornington is his mistress.

The ill-advised pretend engagement takes on a life of its own, and Sophie and Francis keep postponing its end as situations change between Olivia and Marcus. The reader soon learns how much the older couple love one another, but after all the problems that drove them apart, their suspicions, and the length of their separation, how can they ever reconcile? With their wedding looming what will Sophie and Francis do? Can a couple who gave such little thought to their counterfeit proposal finally make a wise decision? Can understanding, forgiveness, and proximity end Olivia and Marcus's long separation, or will events drive them further apart? Somewhat indulgent of silliness and often humorous, A COUNTERFEIT PROPOAL has some poignant and satisfying moments that certainly entertain.

Mary Gregg, Lady Mornington, lost her husband Lawrence in the war in Spain seven years ago. Well known for her gatherings for intelligent talk and entertainment at her home, she is a somewhat plain, short, bluestocking, despite the rumors circulating that she was Lord Clifton's mistress. One of her friends asks her to Vauxhall Gardens for an evening. After she agrees, Mary learns Lord Edmond Waite, who is notorious for his rakishness, is also invited. Due to an incident in Spain, Mary is terrified of thunderstorms. When a sudden storm interrupts an unwanted walk with Edmond Waite, he unexpectedly helps sooth her terror. This leads to a most intimate encounter. Mary isn't angry but grateful; however, she doesn't want to continue the acquaintanceship let alone become Edward's mistress. Especially with a man who freely admits he killed his brother and his mother.

Edmond is the youngest son of the Duke of Brookfield, but he has not seen any of his family since the deaths except his Aunt Eleanor who has stood by him through all. His father and brother think him a murderer. He has purposely besmirched his character. Now he is determined that Mary will be his mistress and chases her in an unrelenting fashion.

Edmond lives up to his reputation, and certainly admits to his debauchery. By the time Mary finally rejects him, the reader is more in sympathy with Edmond than the immoral but socially accepted man who is Edmond's competition. In THE NOTORIOUS RAKE author Mary Balough explores the issues of who is socially acceptable, family, redemption, and forgiveness. Obviously there is much more to Edmond than Mary or society see, and vice versa. Although the end feels rather rushed and somehow not quite complete, because of the issues at play, this story is the more emotionally moving and satisfying of the two. Both offer excellent reading entertainment.

Robin Lee