by Alison James
Matchmaker Lady Tyndale means to marry her penniless but titled nephew, Roland, Lord Carlyon, to her goddaughter, the heiress Lucinda Sinclaire. Unbeknownst to Lady Tyndale, those plans have unraveled before the young lady even reached London. Upon learning that Lord Carlyon is both a rake and a fortune hunter, Lucinda bolted—but not before begging her best friend, Cassiopeia Reade, to go to London in her stead and expose Lord Carlyon for the blackguard he truly is.
Alison James' "Masquerade" is a wonderful Regency Romance. So many elements are so right here, from the engaging heroine Cassie to the challenge of the situation she finds herself in; all of course, through no fault of her own. A question of identity arises at once, and indeed, identity plays quite the role, throughout. As one character is wont to remark, "One needs a scorecard to keep track of the players." Though it is not quite that complex, it never fails to intrigue.
Doubts about certain characters intentions also cause our heroine some concern. What is more, Cassie is secretly privy to some suspicious activity, which soon materializes as a more dark and dangerous threat than she had imagined.
The witty repartee in this novel leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. Teasing tones and events that toy with our emotions reflect the best and absolutely the most classical Regency style. Enigmatic gentleman, the warning letter, the shades of being caught in the midst of something quite untoward, all make this an active, unpredictable story.
This is beautifully written, with a great deal of attention to detail. The details in these historically based works must be accurate, yet never intrude upon the story line. Ms. James manages to hit just the right balance. Descriptions are well carried off - for example, when she tells us that "if the salon had reminded Cassie of a buttercup, the bedroom was nothing short of a rose garden."
All of the fun problems we can foresee developing from the duplicity at the start are there, plus many more. This is an inarguably delightful novel.
Review by Snapdragon