3.5 stars. This was unexpected: a traditional Regency romance that's also a screwball crime caper and a bit of a sex farce. It's a shame it wasn't written until 1996, because it would have made a great 1930's movie, preferably directed by Ernst Lubistch.
Courtney, Lord Chase is that rarest of romance heroes -- not just a virgin, but a virgin because of principles. His unusual forbearance leads to some unfortunate misunderstandings amongst the ton, causing him to need a fake mistress, fast. Enter the poor but virtuous Kathlyn Parkland, who agrees to help him -- less for money than because she feels terribly sorry for the tragically wounded hero, who obviously needs a fake mistress because he has nothing to offer a real one. Meanwhile, various threads of a complicated plot involving a jewelry heist, Courtney's mother, Kathlyn's aunt, several bumbling thieves and two less than brilliant Bow Street Runners are also coming together.
It took me a while to really get into this story, because the caper elements were tiresome and seemed out of place. But the mildly risque humor was entertaining and the main characters quite sweet. After awhile I realized the whole thing was basically a farce and started to enjoy it more. The book is written in very broad strokes which keep it from being as genuinely romantic as I'd like, but it's certainly fun.