The Lady in Question
Victoria Alexander
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The Lady in Question
Victoria Alexander
384 pages
December 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The Lady in Question is a charming, clever novel set in Regency England. Capturing all the flavor of that historical period, Victoria Alexander takes you back in time and immerses you in the lives of her characters, complete with the social rules and customs of the time. The author has a smooth writing style that keeps the pages turning.

Delia Effington had always been the sensible twin and her sister had always been the impetuous one. One action has changed that forever and sent Delia on the path of scandal and disgrace. Totally out of character, proper Delia is reckless and daring when she secretly meets Charles Wilmont, a man with a reputation as a gambler, spendthrift, and a rogue. But Delia cannot help herself as, for once in her life, she is drawn to the adventure that a man like Charles offers her.

Their whirlwind relationship ends in a quick elopement, and even though Delia does not love Charles, she feels that love will grow in time. That never gets a chance to happen as Charles grows distant and preoccupied immediately after the wedding. Within days he leaves on a business trip, only to be killed. The scandal is huge, and Delia is left a wealthy widow, estranged from her family.

After a six-month self-imposed exile at one of Charlesís remote estates, Delia returns to London and begins the process of trying to rebuild her life. She still has six months of official mourning to get through, but she wants to try and reestablish her relationship with her family. To that end, she moves into her late husbandís London home and hires a small, but unusual staff. Unknown to Delia, her late husband was an agent for the British Crown. He was on a mission when he was killed, and certain papers and a notebook have gone missing. Fearing that Charlesís new wife may be in danger, the authorities send in undercover agents to protect her.

Anthony Artemis Gordon St. Stephens was not only a good friend of Charles; he is also an agent. He infiltrates Deliaís household by masquerading as an elderly butler. His disguise is quite good, and he becomes a trusted member of Deliaís household. There he falls under her spell as he finds her to be charming, delightful and all that he has always wanted in a wife for himself.

But when Delia receives a summons to Effington Hall to reconcile with her family, Tony must follow to protect her. He cannot go as her elderly butler, so as himself, Viscount St. Stephens, he gains an invitation to Effington Hall. There he meets Delia as himself, and their unusual relationship takes another turn, as she still isnít aware that he is her aged servant. Delia is fascinated and attracted to Tony, but official mourning prevents her from seeing anyone. When she switches identity with her twin in order to go out with him, she is trapped in a lie and must eventually reveal her secret to him.

But she is not the only one with secrets, and Tony is afraid that she will not be able to forgive him for his own deceit. Their relationship grows as they must each learn to trust each other. Plus, there is the mystery of the missing documents and the unknown threat that still stalks Delia. And what will she do if she learns the depth of Tonyís deceit?

The Lady in Question is a thoroughly delightful and original tale. Scandal and intrigue abound as the two main characters grow and change and their relationship evolves. It is a delightful read that will entertain and please any reader who enjoys a light mystery and this historical time period, mixed with a good dollop of passion.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Norma Collins, 2005

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