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The Shadow of Albion by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill
Published by Tor Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The Shadow of Albion by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edghill is a Regency romance with a twist -- this isn't our Regency era, although the protagonist, Sarah Cunningham, comes from our world. Sarah grew up in the backwoods of Maryland, hunting with her Cree foster-family when her own father became too ill to provide for his family. But when her parents die, Sarah's freedom comes to a painful end and she is shipped off to a relative in Baltimore who regards her as little more than a servant who doesn't need to be paid.
When a mysterious Mrs. Alecto Kennet arrives, bearing a letter from one Duke of Wessex, claiming that her family is owed redress from some ancient wrong, Sarah jumps at the chance to escape this virtual slavery. But Mrs. Kennet dies midway through the trip to England, leaving Sarah utterly without any form of protector. However, she is determined not to become a helpless pawn and when she arrives in Bristol she immediately sets out on her own for London. On the way she is involved in a near-fatal accident with a carriage driven by a woman who wears her own face.
Sarah awakens in a beautiful mansion, being addressed as "Lady Roxbury." This is not our world, but one in which the Stuarts never lost the throne of England. In that world Charles II, the Merry Monarch, realized that his younger brother James would be an utter disaster as king and revealed that he had legally married the mother of Charles, Duke of Monmouth, who then was able to become Charles III.
However, things are not so simple when Sarah soon discovers that she is betrothed to the Duke of Wessex, a man whom she despises from the moment she meets him. At first both of them are determined not to have anything to do with one another, but the king, Henry IX, has other plans, especially since the international situation is very delicate. Although the American Revolution was headed off by more reasonable heads in England (no George III to believe that it was more royal to win than be right), the French Revolution still happened and Napoleon Bonaparte now runs wild on the Continent. The Prince of Wales is about to marry a princess of Denmark and seal a much-needed treaty among the Protestant countries, only the Princess has suddenly gone missing. And the trail may well be intertwined with that of the Lost Dauphin, the son of the executed King of France.
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The story continues in Leopard in Exile, to be published in April of 2001.
This review posted December 31, 1999
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