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Love in the Bargain*

Odd Regency Tale about the Viciousness of the Ton

The book opens with three young girls making a pact never marry. Fast forward to six years later, and the heroine of the novel, Elsie, is poised to have her first season at the age of eighteen. Her parents know of the pact, and of course, they don’t approve. So her mother makes a bargain with her: if she agrees to fully participate in this season and not dissuade suitors, her parents will allow the release of her dowry if she genuinely does not have a bit of interest in one of the men who will pursue her.

This is definitely a different kind of Regency tale. It follows the three young women who initially made the pact during their first season. Elsie’s parent’s bargain has unintended consequences. Near the end of the book, Elsie realizes that she has been lied to by several people. To those who regularly read Regency, it was fascinating to really “see” the ins-and-outs of the gossip sheets and their impact on reputations and lives in Regency England. Quite often this is hinted at in a Regency novel, but this book addresses this aspect of society head-on.

I wasn’t wild about Lord Cameron, whom I believe is meant to be the hero. But he acts in ways beyond unkind, and I had a hard time getting past that to be able to relate to him. I certainly didn’t believe that he loves her.

The end of the book seemed to come out of nowhere. I won’t go into details, of course. The whole book was just kind of odd—and I realize now, feels a bit pointless—and in the end, left me feeling unsatisfied with the story.