A Sister’s Secret
The American War of Independence has been won, and reconciliation with Britain is the order of the day. Enter two sisters, Southern belles, to take London Society by storm. Widowed Caroline is an auburn-haired demi-goddess. Virginal Annabelle, an enchantingly pretty flibbertigibbet, is dangerously infatuated with a Royal Duke – Cumberland, the most unscrupulously licentious man in Society. On the recommendation of her trusted father-in-law, Caroline employs Captain Charles Burnside, an impoverished, disconcertingly carefree former cavalry officer, to distract Annabelle from her disastrous fixation on devilish Cumberland.
So far, so promising. The problem with this novel is one of implacable repetition. Just how many times must the exquisite perfection and tight fit of a gentleman’s trousers be described to ensure that they are not forgotten by our heroines or by absent-minded readers? At times one could be reading erotica, at others a cheerful spoof of the whole historical-romantic genre. There is such a good light-hearted story to be told epitomising the uncertain but hopeful start of Anglo-American relations, plus a subplot of terrorist conspiracy. But it loses shape and impact because of the sheer number of words. All the same, only a curmudgeon would deny that there is an attractive and infectious artlessness about the book as a whole.