THE COURTSHIP DANCE - Candace Camp
Fifteen years ago, two young nobles fell in love and entered into a secret betrothal. The plan was to allow the young lady to have her first London Season before they made the engagement official. But the young lady allowed mistrust to rule the day. She dissolved the agreement and went on to make an unhappy marriage with someone else who went through both their fortunes before leaving her a widow.
No one knows just how close Lady Francesca Haughston is to bankruptcy. She's still one of Society's favorites. When she discovers how badly she wronged her old love, Sinclair, Duke of Rochford, she vows to make it up to him. Francesca has had marked success as a matchmaker in the past and hopes to find the perfect wife for Sinclair. After all, it is past time for the duke to marry and produce an heir. She begins her campaign by scouting out all the fresh young debutantes. But what if the duke has ideas of his own?
Besides being a gambler and a womanizer, Francesca's husband was a selfish, insensitive lover who left her with nothing but memories of pain and feelings of inadequacy. For those and other reasons, she can't even dream of marrying again herself.
THE COURTSHIP DANCE slows down from time to time with blocks of narrative relating Francesca's thoughts and feelings and explaining her motives. The pace picks up again when an unscrupulous crony of her dead husband appears to blackmail her out of the home she's barely hanging onto. Many characters from the other novels help entertain us in this one. The story, which has its moments of sweetness, eventually builds to an exciting conclusion.
THE COURTSHIP DANCE is the long-awaited conclusion to Ms. Camp's four book Matchmaker series. (Previous titles are THE MARRIAGE WAGER, THE BRIDAL QUEST, and THE WEDDING CHALLENGE.) Ms. Camp has tantalized her readers with hints of things past and to come in the relationship between Francesca and Sinclair. Readers should be pleased to see the Matchmaker make her own match.