Miss Drayton's Downfall (Signet Regency Romance) - Patricia Oliver I saw that there were no substantive reviews for this book, so I figured I'd take a crack at it. This book is, after all, one of my favorite traditional Regencies.

Cassandra Drayton is in a pickle. She and her young fiance, Stephen, have anticipated their vows and now she's pregnant without a ring on her finger. To add to her being out of sorts, she enters her father's vicarage only to find Phineas Ravenville, Earl of Mansfield - and Stephen's older brother - waiting for her. Stephen is dead, Phineas (a.k.a. Raven) tells her, and he is there to fulfill his brother's dying wish of providing respectability for Cassandra and a father for their baby. One marriage of convenience later - conveniently performed by Cassandra's father - and they're heading to the glittering world of London and all the temptations that its society has to offer.

This story portrays two people who are an unlikely match, but who come to recognize that, unlikely though they may be, they are, indeed, a match. Cassandra navigates the waters of London society, and we see Raven and Cassandra getting to know each other and, at the same time, denying their growing attraction for each other. Raven's friends are the creme de la creme of the ton, and it's refreshing that they don't alienate or shun Cassandra. Instead, they take her under their collective wing (however unrealistic that may be), and Raven's fellow Corinthians do their part to fuel a little jealousy from Raven. The book takes place both in London and at Raven's country seat, to which they adjourn for the holidays.

I really liked Cassandra. Even though she could at times be shrewish, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of a country miss thrown into the shark-infested waters of London society. Based on her narrative, I liked how she thought about Raven's feelings (like at the jewelers' shop), and she didn't blame him for the situation in which they found themselves. Raven was enigmatic and a little cruel. You have to keep in mind, though, that he'd been a hedonistic bachelor all of his life, and it definitely took some time for him to adjust to the fact that he now had someone under his care. His love for and interactions with his mother revealed a softer side to his hard-edged nature. Raven's friends were delightful and fun, but the villainess who was the chief rival for Raven's affections was a little cardboard. She served her purpose, though, and she was suitably catty for one of these shorter traditional Regency novels.

This book is one of the earlier installments of the Seven Corinthians series by Patricia Oliver. Unfortunately, it's my understanding that she passed away before all of their stories could be told. Nonetheless, we can enjoy the ones she did give us, and Miss Drayton's Downfall is very enjoyable, indeed.