MacLean's debut plays with English high society: girls in swishy-satiny fabrics at balls; brooding, port-swilling boys; chaste but thrillingly clandestine kisses; and, oh yeah, a murder mystery. If this sounds like the makings of a Regency-romance primer for the middle-school set, that's not far off. Alex, no blushing maiden, approaches her first season, when she is officially up for sale on the meat market, and balks at the idea of being married off to the highest bidder. But her mother insists that she marry well. It's a good thing she begins to notice her brothers' closest friend, Gavin, er, Lord Blackmoor. She notices his broad shoulders, gray eyes, and the knot in his cravat. She even notices his odd behavior around her, which obviously is nothing more than his worry that his father's accidental death wasn't all that accidental. Alex proceeds to do a lot more noticing en route to solving the mystery, as does Gavin. Bottom line: this is a good suggestion for readers looking for a PG version of a bodice ripper.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2009 Booklist
In Regency London, Alexandra is about to embark on her first season of balls and dinners, and while nothing "would steer her mother from the course of marrying off her only daughter," 17-year-old Alex is put off by men's seeming lack of interest in women with "any amount" of intelligence ("Evidently, it scares eligible gentlemen off"). Her opinions about romance change when she develops feelings for her brothers' friend Gavin, who is mourning the sudden death of his father (making Gavin the new earl of Blackmoor). Mac-Lean's debut is well paced, and as readers fill up on descriptions of dresses and society's rules, another plot line develops: Alex overhears a conversation proving that Gavin's father was murdered, and she puts her relationship, reputation and life in danger to help him. Readers will appreciate the clique lit/historical romance hybrid: headstrong Alex rolls her eyes and gossips with friends, but still knows the steps to the quadrille. Clever conversation in the spirit of Jane Austen makes this quite a page turner. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Gr 9 Up-The year is 1815, and 17-year-old Lady Alexandra Stafford is out in society for her first London season: a long sequence of parties where debutantes are paraded in front of eligible bachelors, and finding a husband is of utmost importance. But Alex is an unconventional woman, and this world does not interest her. She prefers independence, despises the thought of an arranged marriage, and hopes to foil her mother's plans to find her a rich husband. Then a family friend, Gavin, the new Earl of Blackmoor, whom Alex had always thought of as a brother, arrives on the scene, and she suddenly realizes that he is not looking at her with brotherly affection. Unfortunately, he is distracted from romance by the suspicion that his father had been murdered. The attempt to solve the mystery of his death places Gavin and Alex in mortal peril. The author excels in her depiction of 19th-century England-the dialogue in the society scenes is spot-on. Alex's character is well developed; however, too many supplemental characters make it difficult to get to know them well. The love scenes between Alex and Gavin are fun and romantic, but too modern to be authentic. Readers of Jane Austen will find elements of this story too anachronistic, but fans of the movies of her novels and light historical romances will enjoy this book.-Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.