A Gentleman's Honor
Stephanie Laurens
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A Gentleman's Honor
Stephanie Laurens
464 pages
September 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Stephanie Laurens once again offers her readers a delectable and satisfying new series. A Gentleman’s Honor is book two of The Bastion Club Series, and after reading it you won’t be able to stop yourself from running out to buy the first one in the series, A Lady Chosen.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe Bastion Club is a private gentlemen’s club formed by seven members of the British aristocracy. Each well-born member is titled, wealthy, and in need of a wife now that the war with the French is over and Napoleon has been defeated. All of them have spent the war years in service to His Majesty’s government as spies for the crown. Now they must face their toughest battle yet: the matchmaking mamas of the ton. Determined to marry a wife of their own choosing they have established The Bastion Club to support each other as they infiltrate the ton, identify their lady of choice, storm the “enemy’s” position and capture the prize.

Anthony Blake, sixth Viscount Torrington, is on his way to his godmother Lady Amery’s soiree when he see a gentleman leaving by the garden gate. Tony, as he is called by his friends, decides to enter from the garden in hopes to get the lay of the land before he is detected by his godmother. In the darkened garden, he comes across a woman rising from the side of a man with a long, bloody stiletto in her hand.

Being accused of murder would be the downfall of Alicia Pevensey and her family. Alicia is living a lie, masquerading as the widowed “Mrs. Carrington” so she can chaperone her younger sister, Adriana, and launch her into society. Wellborn but with no connections, they are near penniless and desperate, and Alicia is determined that her beautiful sister have the chance to marry well. As sole guardian and provider for her sister and three younger brothers, Alicia feels that this charade is her family’s only hope.

After determining for himself that the lady is the innocent victim of circumstance, Tony deals with the dead man in the garden and shelters the woman from the authorities. She disappears in the confusion, but he is intrigued by the lady and plans to discover her identity. The murder takes an even more sinister twist when it is discovered that the victim, one William Ruskin, was a senior administrative clerk in the Customs and Revenue Office and appeared to have been selling crucial information about British shipping during the war.

Given his history as an agent for the government and the fact that he found the body, Tony is assigned the task of uncovering what information Mr. Ruskin sold, to whom he sold it, and what purpose it served. The only clue to the murderer’s identity is in the little black book of Mr. Ruskin’s that Tony uncovers: the initials AC. Tony solicits the help of the other members of The Bastion Club to help him uncover the truth.

The plot thickens when it comes to light that Mr. Ruskin has been blackmailing the beautiful Mrs. Alicia Carrington. Tony and Alicia are drawn together by circumstance as Tony is determined to clear Alicia’s name and find the real murderer. Their relationship blossoms, but each of them has secrets that threaten their newfound happiness.

When it becomes evident that the real murderer is trying to frame Alicia for the crime, Tony and Alicia must fight to uncover the truth before her name is ruined and she is charged with the crime. The criminal mastermind has already killed once to make sure his secrets are kept, but will Mr. Ruskin be his only victim?

Stephanie Laurens writes a page-turning mystery and powerful love story that captures all the color and pageantry of early nineteenth-century Britain. Tony and Alicia are supported by a large cast of memorable characters, including a secondary love story between Alicia’s sister, Adriana and her beau, Geoffrey Manningham. The other members of The Bastion Club help solve the mystery and your appetite is whetted for their stories. A satisfying, captivating read.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Norma Collins, 2004

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