Simply one of the best Regencies I have read and my standards are Mary Balogh and Loretta Chase. Amanda, elder daughter of the Amberly Assortment (most of whom have different fathers), has known scandal all her life but did not plan to marry the scandalous scoundrel, Viscount North, whom her mother tried to compromise by sending to her bed. North is an enigma throughout the book which makes for great plot suspense. He is the consummate rake and yet something does not ring true. He seems to attempt to seduce Amanda, even knowing she is chaste and after having agreed to help her capture Sir Giles, but never quite goes through with it. One is left with the feeling he is bored with it all, having done it before. But North has never met anyone like Amanda and she so intrigues him that he cannot let her get away and he pursues her, fighting himself all the way. The totally surprising ending makes the book several cuts above the (sometimes) regrettably Regency fluff from other authors. Definitely, Edith Layton is an author I will seek out.
Odds against Honor - a Regency romance.
A most virtuous young lady finds herself in an unthinkable alliance with England's most libertine lord.
I read this book many years ago, and just had the pleasure of rereading it. Edith Layton wrote some of the best traditional Regencies around, and this is one of her best. The story is not dated at all, in fact it was actually better than I remembered it. Layton writes the most lovely prose, with crackling dialogue, and she gets us inside the heads of both the hero and heroine, and makes us feel all their emotions.
The plot is so typical, with an innocent heroine and a rakish hero, but the things she does with this simple setup are anything but average. Where other authors could take chapters explaining things, she can draw a character in a few strokes of the pen, and make us understand where they're coming from.
There are some heart-wrenching moments in this story, as the couple seems to get together, then splits, then gets together again. I think the hero has to go through a much bigger transformation than the heroine before the HEA can happen. The motives of some secondary characters who may have seemed like villains but actually are not, are fully explained, and the conclusion is just perfect.