Captain Jack Vespa, an aide-de-camp of Lord Wellington's in the battle against Napoleon, has returned home to convalesce from his rather serious battle wounds. But his parents' home in London is just too hectic, with his society-minded mother hovering and the demands of the social season looming.
Expressly against the wishes of both his father and mother, Jack heads to the country to the estate of Alabaster Royal, his inheritance from his Grandmama. It promises to be deserted and a little run-down, but the prospect of some peace and quiet is more than Jack can refuse.
But as Jack nears the village of Gallery-on-Tang, everyone he meets gawks in shock at the mention of Alabaster Royal, mutters a few words about the "accursed" place, and refuses to elaborate.
When he finally arrives at his estate, the presence of a mysterious and beautiful young woman marks an end to Jack's plans for rest and relaxation. Miss Consuela Jones is the granddaughter of an Italian duchess and the daughter of an English artist who died on the grounds of Alabaster Royal. Consuela thinks that he was murdered and wants Jack to help her find out why...
This delightful Regency novel, mixing equal parts suspense and romance, is the latest from Patricia Veryan, "the reigning queen of period romance" (Romantic Times) and it promises to enthrall her many, many fans.
Dashing good fun from genre master Veryan (The Lord and the Gypsy) in her best effort yet--a Regency that rises farther above the formula than her fine novels usually do. Home from the Napoleonic Wars, Captain John Vespa, called Jack, is looking forward to rest and relaxation at his ancestral home, Alabaster Royal. Instead he finds a purportedly haunted house; an eccentric Italian duchess and her granddaughter, the redoubtable (and lovely) Consuela Jones; a disreputable valet; surly local gentry; and an intriguing mystery. It seems Miss Jones believes her father not only died on Jack's property but was murdered there. Skeptical at first, Jack is slowly convinced that there may be something to this tale, especially after Consuela is brutally attacked in his cellar. Charming and droll, the story is further enlivened by well-drawn secondary characters. Skilled pacing and dramatization carry events along after Jack finds his unexpected guests. And the mystery remains a mystery nearly to the very end, with never a plot line dropped or a too-neat tie in sight.