A Lady of His Own
Stephanie Laurens
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A Lady of His Own
Stephanie Laurens
448 pages
September 2004
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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A Lady of His Own by Stephanie Laurens is the third installment of The Bastion Club series. Once again, a member of The Bastion Club is seeking a wife, but the task is not quite as simple as it seems. The Bastion Club is a private gentlemenís club formed by seven members of the British aristocracy who all need wives now that the war with the French is over and Napoleon has been defeated. Determined to marry a wife of their own choosing, they have established The Bastion Club to support each other in their efforts. Two of the members have already found their wives, and now it is Charles St. Austellís turn.

Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel, has left the whirl of London and returned to Restormel Abbey on Cornwallís southern coast. He is a man on a mission: he has been commissioned by his former commander, the mysterious Dalziel, to investigate and determine if there is any truth to the tales of Foreign Office secrets being smuggled through local channels. Charles doesnít expect much to come of the investigation, but has seized on the excuse to return to his ancestral home and contemplate his real mission: finding a suitable wife.

After spending the last thirteen years in France as a spy for the British government, Charles finds that he cannot fit easily back into society. London is filled with beautiful young ladies, but Charles despairs of ever finding a woman who is suitable for the position. He feels apart from society and desperately needs a wife who can help him connect to life again - but, to do that, she must be able to connect to him. As he sits in his study late one night taking stock of the situation, he goes to investigate a noise and finds Lady Penelope Selbourne marching up the stairs of his home.

At twenty-nine, Lady Penelope Selbourne is considered a spinster, which is just fine with her. Sheís had four successful London Seasons and dozens of good marriage proposals but turned them all down. For the last seven years, she has lived quietly at her family home, Wallingham Hall. Penelope has uncovered a secret which could ruin the reputations, not only of her dead father and brother, but also of what remains of her family. She feels duty-bound to investigate and uncover the truth.

After a long day and evening of following and watching her distant cousin, Nicholas Selborne, Viscount Arbry, Penelope seeks refuge at the Abbey for the night. The staff always keep a room ready for her in her godmotherís home as she is a frequent visitor. On this night, however, a ghost from the past appears beside her in the form of Charles St. Austell. They had been lovers once when she was just sixteen, but it ended badly. She felt that it was just physical for him, but for her it was much more. Shortly after, he left - and stayed away for the next thirteen years.

Charles and Penelope are thrust into each otherís company as they both have a stake in the investigation. Each still has feelings for the other which have only deepened over the years they have been apart. The investigation, which starts out as routine, turns dangerous with nothing being as it seems. A deadly assassin is determined to hide the truth, and Charles must juggle his search for the truth with his personal pursuit of Penelope. Penelope, who has secrets of her own, must learn to trust Charles if they are to unmask the assassin and have a chance at a future together.

A Lady of His Own is a story of family secrets, spies, smugglers and murder that unfolds around the deepening relationship between Charles and Penelope. With all its twists and turns, Laurens provides us with an exciting mystery as well as a satisfying, sensual love story. A Stephanie Laurens book is like a waltz through early nineteenth-century British society, capturing all the flavor and history of the times. The book stands on its own, but if you havenít read the first two in The Bastion Club series, A Lady of His Own will send you to the nearest bookstore to buy the first two. For those following the series, this book will leave you impatiently waiting for the next installment.

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

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