The Golden Feather
Grade : B+

Traditional Regencies, as all familiar with the sub-genre know, usually limit the characters' sexual interaction to "kisses;" any more than that would be contrary to the period, and traditional Regencies are nothing if not accurate to their time. That said, however, a lot of Regency authors make the mistake of keeping their characters' emotions in check, as well. At its best,romance writing should give you a lump in your throat, even if the heroes' lumps are left behind closed doors. Amanda McCabe's The Golden Feather is indeed lump-inducing, and its hero and heroine have a romance that succeeds on several levels.

Caroline Aldritch is a widow whose husband Lawrence died after a night of gambling and drinking. Although the two married for love, Lawrence's weaknesses had long since squelched Caroline's love. He leaves her with twenty pounds, not nearly enough to keep her younger sister in the ladies' school that will give her the proper education she needs to make her debut. A friend of Lawrence's gives her a box her husband left behind, however, and inside it Caroline finds the deed to a gambling house. Lawrence appears to have been lucky in cards for one night, at least, although he was not too lucky when drunkenly encountering a carriage later that evening. Caroline decides that, even though she despises gambling, she and her sister need the money. She disguises herself and makes the Golden Feather one of the most exclusive gambling establishments in theton.

Gambling was but one of Justin Seward's problems. Add frequent dueling, drunkenness, and a careless, profligate lifestyle and it is obvious why, as the disgrace of his family, his father, the Earl of Lyndon, shipped this second son off to India to keep him out of trouble. Four years later, the earl and his heir are both dead, and Justin returns to England as the new Earl of Lyndon. He realizes just what a wastrel he was, and is horrified to find that his younger brother Harry is following in his footsteps, albeit in muchmore brightly patterned waistcoats. Justin accompanies Harry to the Golden Feather, where he encounters the establishment's proprietress, the mysterious Mrs. Archer. He is immediately attracted to her, as she is to him, but he does not pursue his interest. Instead, he, his brother, and his mother go to a seaside resort to try to divert Harry from falling into Justin's old ways.

There, they meet Caroline Aldritch and her sister Phoebe, a high-spirited lady with a fondness for garish clothing and impulsive action. Phoebe, of course, immediately embarks on a flirtation with Harry. On the other hand, Caroline is horrified that Justin is there, since she knows that if he unmasks her, she and her sister will be forever disgraced. He does not recognize her, however, and the two embark on a wonderful romance that makes sense, not just sensibility: both have been scarred by gambling, both love Renaissance songs and poetry, both are far too somber, and both have younger siblings whom they have to watch. As the romance unfolds, the Dark Secret of Caroline's past is present, but it is not the centerpiece of the action. When All is Revealed, it's not some formulaic exposition, but something unique and charming. Both the hero and heroine's motivations and actions throughout understandings and Big Misunderstandings are understandable, and their romance is satisfyingly complex.

The Golden Feather is a romance between adults, people who have difficult pasts and who must face them in order to face the future. It is a traditional Regency, but it is not a paint-by-numbers "get vouchers to Almack's" story, instead revealing human emotions in all their manifestations.

Reviewed by Megan Frampton
Grade : B+
Book Type: Regency Romance

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : December 30, 2002

Publication Date: 2002

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Megan Frampton

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