Clarissa Feeney in Fair Game is one of the most charming and utterly lovable heroines I have met in a Regency Romance. She is beautiful but is not puffed up about it, she is intelligent without being a bluestocking, slightly naive but not missish, and has a high standard of morals without being puritanical. She is a dear and I liked her from the beginning.
Trevor Whitlatch is the son of a clergyman. He was an adventurous lad who as a youngster was apprenticed to his uncle, a ship owner. Trevor took to the business with enthusiasm and intelligence and is now a rich man. When the story opens, Trevor has come to collect a debt. He rescued La Gianetta, an actress (read courtesan) from a scrape and she repaid him by stealing a valuable necklace. La Gianetta does not have it anymore, so she offers him a beautiful young girl. Trevor takes the girl to protect her from La Gianetta and finds himself with Clarissa, who turns out to be La Gianetta’s daughter.
Clarissa has been raised in a series of boarding schools and has gotten a good education. She had hoped to stay at her last school as a teacher, but the headmistress, who had been like a mother to her, died without a will and the relatives who took over the school turned out Clarissa because she was illegitimate. Clarissa came to her mother and now is with Trevor.
Poor Trevor, he is now the protector of this charming young woman for whom he has promised to find employment. But Clarissa is all but unemployable. She is intelligent and capable, but she is the illegitimate daughter of a notorious courtesan and has no character references. So Trevor takes her to his country home and passes her off as his ward.
Poor Trevor, he has beautiful and charming Clarissa with him at all times and is beginning to have tender feelings for her. But Trevor wants to marry a woman with a title. He has money all right, but wants the social cachet of a titled wife. He begins to think Clarissa would make a wonderful mistress, but she would never agree to such a thing! Then Clarissa meets Eustace Henry, the young, gauche but very nice-looking son of the local vicar who falls for her hard and awakens the green-eyed monster in Trevor.
Fair Game is filled with wonderful repartee between Trevor and Clarissa. They are together for the whole novel and make a fabulous couple. I loved seeing these two intelligent and strong-willed people talk and spar with each other without being snippy or silly or mean. Their discussions and fights give both of them food for thought and they discover aspects of themselves that they had not thought about or wanted to face.
There is only one small flaw in this book. Fred Bates, a friend of Trevor’s is introduced as a man who has had a past history with La Gianneta. We are given enough information to get us interested and then that subplot disappears. I wanted to know more.
That one small quibble aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this charming book. It has fantastic and witty dialogue and characters who were real and likable. I especially empathized with Clarissa’s uncanny ability to get lost. I am directionally challenged myself and understood her perfectly. I know that I will be watching out for more of Diane Farr.