July 08, 1996 12:00 PM

by Amanda Quick

Witty, charming, sharply written, downright funny—this is not the language historically deployed to describe Regency romances—bodice rippers. But without such adjectives it would be hard to talk about the 12th of Quick’s bestselling, economically named novels (Deception, Scandal, Ravished, Mistress).

Beautiful, anything-but-demure Imogen Waterstone has a mind as well as a fortune—and a plan to avenge what she believes to be the murder of her dearest friend, Lucy, whose husband, she suspects, did her in. To succeed in her extremely complicated scheme, Imogen turns to Matthias Marshall, the handsome, implacable Earl of Colchester (nickname: Cold-blooded Colchester), who discovered the ancient island kingdom of Zamar and founded the prestigious Zamarian Review, which is the talk of all the most fashionable London salons.

Mischief occasionally goes purple—”A wave of sweet, searing heat went through him, stoking the fire that had been smoldering in his loins…”—but Imogen and Matthias spar like Hepburn and Tracy. The 19th century has rarely been so much fun. (Bantam; $22.95)

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