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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heiress Without a Cause by Sara Ramsey

Heiress Without a Cause by Sara Ramsey
Publisher: Spencerhill Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (257 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

One title to change his life...

A disgraced son with a dark reputation, William “Ferguson” Avenel is content to live in exile – until his father dies in the scandal of the Season. With rumors of insanity swirling around them, his sisters desperately need a chaperone. Ferguson thinks he’s found the most proper woman in England – and he won’t ruin her, even if he secretly desires the passionate woman trapped beneath a spinster’s cap.

One chance to break the rules...

Lady Madeleine Vaillant can’t face her blighted future without making one glorious memory for herself. In disguise, on a London stage, she finds all the adoration she never felt from the ton. But when she’s nearly recognized, she will do anything to hide her identity – even setting up her actress persona as Ferguson’s mistress. She’ll take the pleasure he offers, but Madeleine won’t lose her heart in the bargain.

One season to fall in love...

Every stolen kiss could lead to discovery, and Ferguson’s old enemies are determined to ruin them both. But as their dangerous passion ignites their hearts and threatens their futures, how can an heiress who dreams of freedom deny the duke who demands her love?

Emotional wounds from early years, inflicted by their parents, have never completely healed for “almost-a –spinster” Madeline Valliant or for Ferguson, the new Duke of Rothwell. To trust love will not be easy for either of them.

Longing for freedom to use and develop her acting talent makes Madeline risk total ruin if discovered. But the adoration she feels from the audience fills a long-time empty spot deep inside—she feels loved, but she also knows this same audience can be fickle.

London Society knows Madeline as the orphan niece of Lady Augusta. She's a respectable, responsible, dull wallflower unlike her cousin Amelia who has many suitors. Madeline knows she's considered “unmarriageable”, but it still hurts when the duchess of Harwich and the duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake, ask her to chaperone his twenty-one-year-old twin sisters for the Season so they can find husbands. The thing is, the twins don’t want husbands. They want to have fun and experience life after having been locked away from society by a bitter father.

As Madeline juggles her multifaceted life, she has the support of Amelia and their friend Prudence. These three call themselves the muses of Mayfair for they all pursue secret passions. Amelia writes Gothic romance novels and Prudence writes treatise of academic nature that are widely read and praised by men. They use male pseudonyms to get their work published, but for Madeline to pursue her passion, she must disguise herself as a different person and run the risk of being found out, bringing on her own ruin plus shame for her family. But Amelia and Prudence support her and find Madeline playing “Hamlet” in a theater located in the rough district of Seven Dials to be exciting until blackmail is threatened.

Ferguson, Duke of Rothwell, hates having to return to London and take up the responsibilities of a dukedom. He's no stranger to the theater district in Seven Dials. His duchy owns property there. Ferguson spent more than his share of time in the rough district during his rakish years ten years ago, before he had finally been sent to Scotland for his outrageous behavior. He’d left behind a few friends, lots of enemies, and one extremely disgruntled ex-mistress.

As Ferguson and Madeline’s lives get entangled in two levels of society, the suspense gets intense with breath-holding events that grip the reader’s attention. His ambivalence about his unexpected position in Society, his desire for Madeline, his guilty feelings about his sister and his half-sisters, and his part in protecting Madeline’s identity, are strong emotions that weave in and out of the story like a magnetic thread. Madeline’s determination, her love for family, her naiveté about what she's gotten herself into, and her growing love for Ferguson pour through the story with warmth, humor, and more than a little anxiety.

Some of the secondary characters from the most influential in the ton to the greedy theater operator Madame Legrand, the vindictive ex-mistress Caro, and the lecherous Westbrook all up the stakes for Madeline’s ruin at every turn. However, others know Madeline and love her for herself and conspire to keep the “bad guys” at bay while the little house on Dover Street becomes a haven for the two lovers.

Sara Ramsey uses all the trappings of the usual Regency romance, but she creates a plot that insures Heiress Without a Cause is a page turner. Her character development makes the reader feel as if she knows them personally and desires to help get all the misunderstandings and hurts smoothed away. Ms. Ramsey weaves together a fantastic story with bits of humor, some scary situations, magical love scenes, compelling back stories, plus some comedic and other riveting London Society happenings. Heiress Without a Cause has its awesome happy-ever-after, but only after an abundance of bumps along the way.