The Girl with the Sweetest Secret (Sin & Sensibility)
Frances Bumgarten’s ambitious mother has brought her to London from America, intending to find her an aristocratic husband. The German Duke of Ottenberg is perfect in her eyes, but Frankie is not so sure. Instead, she feels drawn to the very annoying, but intriguing, Reynard Boulton (the Fox). The duke is not so easily balked of his prey, however, and abducts the beautiful silver heiress.
The story, which is set (vaguely) in the late 19th century, is as much adventure as romance, involving a daring chase after a bolting horse, an innocent sister’s rescue by a band of gypsies from a fate worse than death, a desperate pursuit to rescue the abducted heroine, and a duel with swords between the hero and the villain. Nor is it easy to forget the image of the innocent sister playing ‘a sad, sweet strain’ on her violin on the steps of the Paris Opera House, drawing to her not only Frankie and Fox, but her besotted French lover, all of whom have been frantically searching for her.
Despite some entertaining touches of humor, this will appeal primarily to readers who relish sentimentality and melodrama in their romances. And multiple sub-plots.