Dear Mrs. Michaels,
Just an aside, the whole time I was reading this one I kept thinking of antihistamines and sleep meds.
Allegra Crispino’s mother ran off with an Italian opera singer and was cut off by her father, the Baron Dugdale (which is a silly name, isn’t it?). Now he’s on death’s door and has asked Valerian Fitzhugh, the son of an old friend, to try to track down his long lost granddaughter while Valerian is still on his Continental Tour. His plan is to grease his way into heaven by reinstating Allegra in the family and to leave her his estate and all his lovely money. Something which does not please his greedy sister, her greedy son or greedy daughter. But first Valerian has to persuade Allegra to come back to England with him and then to try and survive the upheaval she causes in his life and everyone else’s. Oh, and there’s a lovestruck Milanese shoemaker who has followed her to England and a few characters from an earlier book, “The Mischievous Miss Murphy.”
At one point the hero says:
“You know, Max, I used to be considered a very intelligent, well-ordered man. Now my life is a shambles, and I cannot add two and two with any real hope of ending up with four. Is it love itself that causes this condition, or is it Allegra in particular? I vow, my life has been complete chaos since I met her. I cut short my travels, have dined with Prinny — which I vowed never to do — I have a shoemaker turned Conte living under my roof, and am contemplating marriage to a woman who may either love me or be working some sort of bizarre Italian vendetta against me for rescuing her from poverty and that same shoemaker.”
This is your usual trad regency froth and is quite a lot of fun. It’s a tad bit over the top and I know it could never happen but once the ride started, I had to just hang on for dear life. Allegra is delightful and actually likes Prinny’s monstrosity of a pavilion. Valerian, as mentioned, hardly knows which end is still up and Allegra’s family are truly delicious in their single minded determination to get that money! This one ends up a B+.