Set in 1810, Desperate Measures is a romance that takes place during one evening at a ball. Young Lydia Bettridge is suffering from the pangs of unrequited love. She’s desperate to have her brother’s friend, the Golden God, Geoffrey Danforth, notice her, so she and another of her brother’s friends, Phillip, hatch a plot to make Geoffrey jealous. Phillip is to play the love-smitten swain in full view of Geoffrey in the hope that seeing another young man pay such assiduous attention to her will awaken Geoffrey’s latent awareness of her.
As Lydia impatiently waits for tardy Phillip to show, who should arrive in his place, but Geoffrey himself. What is Lydia to do now? She soliders on through two dances and supper while trying to wrack her brains as to how to put the jealousy-inducing side of her earlier plan into operation. Her attention alights on a well-seasoned rake and she manages to capture his jaded interest in a brief exchange that has Geoffrey fulminating.
I enjoyed seeing how Lydia grows in confidence from the beginning of the evening to the end. She arrives at the ball with her confidence at its lowest ebb, desperate to be noticed. She leaves having captured the prize of the marriage mart, her confidence at an all-time high. Usually, trads have older heroes who cause the young ingénues to act in mature ways; however, in this story, these young individuals themselves act sensibly and discuss their differences and opinions honestly and forthrightly, with no immature flouncing leading to misunderstandings.
Desperate Measures was first published in The Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, and I give it a B.