The Chance
by Edith Layton, historical (2000)
Harper, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-101434-6

I'm never too fond of a romance where a heroine starts off utterly, utterly, utterly in love with the hero and the rest of the book revolves around her trying her feminine best to get his affections. Especially when these sort of women more often than not play fair - when we all know it's a free-for-all brawl in the arena of amour - and stands there, tears in her eyes, instead of clawing the eyes out of her rivals for her man.

Thus I must say The Chance isn't too bad a book if I manage to like it.

Lord Raphael Dalton, war hero of Guess-which-war (hint: fatso in Elba), is one of the two rejected suitors of the heroine of The Choice. Never mind, he marries Brenna Ford to save her reputation when she gets - let's just say she is In Love With Him (don't ask why, it's a plot thing) and he, unfortunately, thinks of her as only his sister's nice friend.

Instead of donning some leather w**** gear and whips and Hiii-yaing through his bedroom door, our heroine stands there demurely like an ice princess, a tragic martyr of unrequited love. In between long, boring descriptions of parties and stuff which I'm getting used to after three Edith Layton books, our heroine says the obligatory witty stuff (proof that she's courageous and intelligent) while waiting for love.

And wait and wait and wait she does.

Never mind, lucky for her a villain steps in and brings the story to a hasty Yes, yes, darlin' I love you indeed, milady wife (say, you sure you don't have a leather whip, m'love?) epilogue. Lucky Brenna indeed, for in an otherwise less kind novel, she'd be trampled by women with more guile than she can ever dream of.

Still, Brenna is a nice lady, if a boring one. I think she can show much promise if some nice, loud, brassy Regency Molly Brown can take her in hand and show her how a woman is supposed to twist her man around her pinkie finger. Rafe is boring, a bit obtuse, and he's okay too. Everyone's okay in this novel, well-mannered, not a step out of place, saying lots of things that only cement the whole dull properness of things.

Brenna fights hard for her man, only to look at him in besotted relief in the end, because - oh, he loves her! He loves her!

Very nice, dear. Now buzz off to play with your idol and let me hunt for stuff on Harriette Wilson on the Web. Now that's a woman who knows how to grab the man she wants by the, pardon me language, dingdong.

Rating: 69

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