The Viscount's Vixen - Joan Overfield This is a very good traditional Regency with characters common to the genre: the "plain" bluestocking spinster heroine, Philipa Lambert aka Pip, and the tall, dark and handsome rakish newly-titled viscount, Lord Alexander St. Ives.

(Note: This book was one of the first romance novels I'd ever read around fifteen years ago. It was a library book and, thus, unfortunately not part of my collection. After a couple of years, I decided to add it to my "wish list" on half.com. Obviously, it was memorable enough for me to want to own it and reread it. Finally, I took the plunge and bought a copy recently - some fifteen years after my first reading. I started reading it with a little trepidation, not knowing what to expect with such high expectations for my memorable reading experience that many years ago. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.)

Although it features (on the surface) cliches of the genre, I liked it for revealing a deeper character in each protagonist than just the cliche. The hero is fantastic - rakish, but with a strong and ingrained sense of honor. He has the flaws of a traditional Regency rake - namely, a healthy dose of arrogance and highhandedness - but it works well with the plot and creates fireworks in his interactions with Pip. Pip is a bluestocking and well-read with rather radical ideas and what had always been a firm aversion to submitting herself to the stifling bonds of marriage. That said, she struggles with these strong opinions when it becomes clear to her that St. Ives, with his intelligence and honor, is more than her match in every way.

The plot begins with Pip's friend, a wealthy heiress, deciding she wants to marry for the opportunity to be a political hostess. (The book blurb is wrong in saying the friend needs a wealthy husband.) Pip's friend chooses St. Ives because she (mistakenly) thinks he's just a fashionable fribble who will be easily molded, and she pushes Pip to aid her in this cause. St. Ives, unbeknownst to the ladies, has a gambit of his own to uphold - namely, a wager that involves Pip. (Even though he doesn't want to drag a lady's name into a wager, he is pretty much forced to take it by his friends. In the description of how things played out, this aspect didn't take away from his character/sense of honor in my eyes.) They are thrown together any number of times due to their respective motives, in London and at a house party. To say more after this would give away spoilers. Let's just say the second half of the book is a match of wits between two strong personalities, who ultimately realize they can't live without one another.

Overall, recommended - this book was a pleasure, and I'm happy to have (finally) added it to my collection.