This is a reissue - orginally published 1992. I did not care for it as much as Loretta Chase's later books: the plot was overly complex; the hero, more of a nere-do-well than appealing; the heroine, overly impulsive and thoughtless. However, there were interesting twists and turns,more wit than many other historicals, an engaging 12 year old boy, plus tragedy and mystery spanning a couple decades. One can also learn a bit of Albanian. Esme Brentmor is a young lady, daughter of a disowned noble (kicknamed the Red Lion by his adopted countrymen). She was born and raised in Albania circa early 1800's, a country full of intrigue and fatal political infighting, not to mention harems.Varian St. George, Lord Edenmont is an impoverish lord, living off his wits, who ends up entangled in Albanian plots, Esme's young cousin, Percival, and the search for a missing chess piece that is linked to illegal weapons trade.Everyone ends up back in England, revisiting the past, with a dramatic finale that ties up all the loose ends. As for Esme and Varian: 'opposites attract'; during the course of events, Varian matures, and Esme learns some self governance. By the end, the reader feels more confident that they will live happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this book. The setting was different (Albania) and the characters were very likeable. The book moved at a good pace and kept me interested.