Reviewed by Francine
This sensual and touching novella begins with a soldier's gallant deed during the battle between British and French forces at the Château Hougoumont Farmhouse (1815). But memories remain a year and six months later (1816) and are as stark and real within nightmares as dreadful news received by Noel Redgrave hours before the French assault. Given to believe a normal life as others of his ilk are enjoying will never be realised, young maidens are displayed and trumpeted by others in hope of tempting him to enter the marriage mart. True, he has an inheritance in dire need of a boost in funds, so ideally a large dowry and at least a moderately attractive bride would solve his problems. Though no one expected, not least his best friend, the lady who would catch his eye is the least thought of as a suitable bride in temperament or otherwise.
Lettice is independent, a rebel at heart with an artistic bent and a wicked mischievous almost cruel streak which she has wielded in the past with consummate skill for no other purpose but to deter potential suitors. Suddenly besieged by a new irritable rash of suitors she puts into practise a new deceit to test Noel in determining whether he is genuinely drawn to her, or whether a substantive dowry is the greater attraction. For Noel it is a double dilemma, for on the one hand he will be looked upon as a cad if he dares to ask for her hand in marriage, on the other he may destroy the very thing he wants if he compromises her in the heat of the moment and casts caution to the wind. Hence, the dire situation that arises betwixt Noel and Lettice, cannot be resolved without absolute honesty and confession of hidden truths, so who will own to deceit first? A dilemma indeed and a thoroughly charming Regency romance!