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The Pretender
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 0312984855
June 2003
Historical Romance

This is the first book in a series called “The Liar’s Club”. Agatha Cunnington has come to London from her country home in search of her missing brother James. In order to preserve her reputation, and provide her freedom of movement, she pretends she is married. She has to produce Mortimer Applequist because some of the society ladies question his existence. She persuades Simon Rain to pose as Mortimer. Simon goes along with the charade because he is also looking for James. He believes Agatha is James’ mistress. She believes he is a chimney sweep.

Simon is especially opposed to marriage because his career as a spy makes any family members vulnerable to attack. Agatha sees no need to marry, because she has a comfortable life and plenty of funds to sustain her. Neither of them expected to fall in love.

This book takes a formula and makes it new. Celeste Bradley drew me into the story and I had difficulty putting the book down. The suspense and love story were believable and enjoyable reading. Her writing style is smooth and unobtrusive. I am glad to see that this is the beginning of a series because the secondary characters have a charm of their own. I look forward to the next book. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy Regency novels, as well as those who like romantic suspense.

Nancy Riggins-Hume, July 2003

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