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The Lady in Question (Effington Family & Friends Series)

The Lady in Question (Effington Family & Friends Series)

3.8 23
by Victoria Alexander

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Identical twins, sensible Delia and mischievous Cassandra Effington were the most delicious debutantes to ever waltz across a London ballroom. They looked alike in every way . . . but no one ever expected Delia to be the one to get into trouble . . .

How did this young lady's reputation become so questionable?

Once she was lovely, respectable Miss Delia


Identical twins, sensible Delia and mischievous Cassandra Effington were the most delicious debutantes to ever waltz across a London ballroom. They looked alike in every way . . . but no one ever expected Delia to be the one to get into trouble . . .

How did this young lady's reputation become so questionable?

Once she was lovely, respectable Miss Delia Effington, but an impulsive decision—and subsequent disaster—forces Delia to retire from society. Until one night, desperate for diversion, she attends a ball as her twin sister and finds herself dancing in the strong arms of the dashing Viscount St. Stephens.

Delia believes she has never met this man who arouses her passions, yet he seems somehow familiar. For Delia doesn't know that St. Stephens, an agent for the Crown, has been in her home, protecting her under the disguise of her butler. What will happen when this lady discovers the truth about the man she has come to love?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A silky weaving of humor and intrigue, Alexander's newest Regency-era romance (following Love with the Proper Husband) launches with the death of Delia Effington's rakehell husband, who was secretly an English spy. The two had been married only a matter of days, and now Delia, widowed and wealthy, finds herself adrift in an unfamiliar house with only a few servants to keep her company. Little does she know that her husband's death put her under government suspicion, and handsome spy Viscount Tony St. Stephens has infiltrated her home in the guise of an elderly butler to protect her and to pry out her secrets. And little does Tony know that he'll fall fast and hard for Delia. Alexander raises the stakes when Delia begins to masquerade as her twin sister, and Tony tosses off his white wig and begins to court Delia. Though the oftentimes dim-witted Delia doesn't ring true as an adventuress and the aristocratic hero/spy character has become a cliche, Alexander's offering showcases the playful prose and seamless storytelling that have turned readers into fans and landed her books on bestseller lists. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Effington Family & Friends Series
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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The Lady in Question

Chapter One

June 1820

Dearest Cassie,

I have at last returned to London to take up residence in my husband's house. I am all too aware that Mother has yet to forgive me for my transgressions and continues to forbid you to so much as speak to me, but if it is at all possible could you pay me a call this afternoon? I have missed you terribly, dear sister. I arrived three days ago and there is no one here to talk to save the servants, and they are an odd lot indeed ...

"Given the circumstances, that is, all things considered, and the time that has passed ... " Lady Wilmont, Philadelphia -- Delia to her dearest friends, and, up until a scant six months ago, Miss Effington -- picked at an odd thread on the arm of the far-too-masculine sofa in the parlor of her late husband's town house and forced a casual note to her voice. "Do you think Mother will ever speak to me again?"

"I certainly wouldn't wager on it at the moment. She's already gone on far longer than I would have expected." Cassandra Effington, Delia's younger sister by no more than two minutes, drew her brows together thoughtfully. "You know how Mother is. She has taken all of this as an affront to the stars, a defiance of destiny, that sort of thing."

"Yes, she would, wouldn't she?" Delia heaved a resigned sigh.

"Mother will come around eventually." Cassie leaned closer and patted her twin's hand. "In truth, I think now that you have returned from exile -- "

"It wasn't exile, Cassie, it was the Lake District."

Cassie scoffed. "The Lake District in winter sounds very much like exile to me."

"Not at all. Besides, each of our brothers visited and Father sent letters."

"Even so, for the most part you were ensconced with a relative so distant we have scarcely heard of her."

"Great-Aunt Cecily. She was quite nice -- if rather private -- which was well and good, because what I needed was time and distance," Delia said firmly. "Away from London and gossip and scandal."

"Perhaps we should send Mother to the Lake District. It's taking her rather a long time to get over her -- "

"Anger? Outrage? Embarrassment?"

"Yes, of course, all of that." Cassie waved away her sister's words as if they were of no importance. "I believe Mother could manage anger, outrage, embarrassment, humiliation, disgrace, dishonor -- "

"I don't think I actually used the words humiliation, disgrace or dishonor," Delia murmured.

"Use them or not, they are present nonetheless," Cassie said firmly. "However, my point is that Mother could cope with all that and more. She is, even if merely by marriage, an Effington. And Effingtons are well used to dealing with the petty problems brought on by the occasional minor scandal."

"You think this was minor, then?" Delia sat up a bit straighter.

"Oh, dear Lord, no. Not at the time anyway." Cassie shook her head with far more enthusiasm than was necessary. "No, an Effington running off with a scoundrel of Lord Wilmont's reputation was quite the biggest scandal of the year."

"I suppose so." Delia sank back in her seat, an odd rational portion of her mind chastising her for such posture. Miss Philadelphia Effington never slouched. Apparently, however, Lady Wilmont did.

"This may well be the biggest scandal of the last few years," Cassie added. "In fact, I am hard-pressed to recall a bigger scandal ever. Although I do suppose -- " "That's quite enough, thank you." Delia sighed again and slumped deeper into the sofa. The perfect carriage expected of a properly bred young woman of two-and-twenty scarcely seemed of significance when one was the center of the biggest scandal of the last few years. Or ever.

"Oh, dear, I haven't been any help at all, have I? Very well. Perhaps I have exaggerated somewhat. It probably only seemed so huge because it occurred in December and there was little else for everyone to talk about." Cassie cast her sister a sympathetic look. "I do apologize, dearest, it's simply odd for me to be in this position. And frankly, that's why I think Mother has had such a difficult time with it all."

Delia raised a brow. "Because it isn't you?"

"Exactly." Cassie nodded firmly. "She and everyone else have always thought if one of us were ever to be embroiled in a scandal of this magnitude -- "

"It could have been far worse. I did marry him, after all," Delia pointed out.

"In this particular case, I daresay that does make it worse," Cassie said. "I still do not understand why you did it."

"Nor do I," Delia said under her breath.

She had no idea how to explain what she could only call the madness that had inflicted her in weeks surrounding Christmas and ultimately led to scandal and her current odd position of barely wed widow.

Six months. It scarcely seemed long enough for a life to change so completely. Six months ago she hadn't a care in the world save for the usual questions about whether or not she or her sister would find a suitable match in the coming year.

"Your letters were not at all informative, at least not about anything of significance. We have had no chance to talk since it all happened." Cassie shrugged casually. "You fled so quickly -- "

"I didn't flee. I" -- Delia wrinkled her nose -- "escaped. It was cowardly of me, I know, but I was hard-pressed at the time to accept that I lost my mind, ran off and ruined my life."

"It's not entirely ruined. You did marry him."

"You just said in this case that might well have made it worse."

The Lady in Question. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander was an award-winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was more fun than real life. She is the author of thirty-one novels, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Victoria lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her long-suffering husband and two dogs, in a house under endless renovation and never-ending chaos.

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Lady in Question 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was most disappointed in this novel that Victoria Alexander has written. I absolutly love her other works but was disappointed in this one. It didn't hold my attention at all, or propel me into reading on. I feel the story premise was excellent. However, it felt rushed when reading it. I feel it could have been better written. I feel that the characters were not established enough. I felt robbed. However, I can not wait until Victoria Alexander comes out with another novel, because she is absolutly one of my favourite authors. I feel that this novel deserves three stars but I am giving it four stars only because it was Victoria Alexander who wrote it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Viscount Anthony (Tony) St Stephens never would have guessed that he would be a butler, an elderly one at that, but that is what the young man finds himself being when he goes undercover. Delia Effington, a recently widowed young lady, is in danger, and Tony is assigned to protect her without her knowledge. To do so, he must pretend to be her elderly butler, Gordon. ....................... Delia is trying to make a new life for herself, one filled with experiences and adventures. She is a bit unsure of what she is doing, and is most surprised to find herself making friends with Gordon. Yet, he is becoming her most trusted ally. Equally surprising is the attraction she feels for the mysterious young lord, Tony St Stephens. As the two begin to fall in love, the question arises, what to do about Gordon? And who is the threat to Delia? .................... *** With good humor and wit, Ms Alexander again scores a winning novel. Delia is a refreshing young lady, and her friendship with her 'butler' is as charming as her romance with his alter ego. It is not at all hard to imagine that Tony could win a young widow's heart with his debonair ways and likeable nature. ***
Guest More than 1 year ago
Six months ago, Miss Philadelphia ¿Delia¿ Effington became Lady Wilmont when she married the rake Charles Wilmont. A few days after their wedding, someone kills Charles who was actually using a rake masquerade to hide his espionage work for His Majesty. The Widow Delia fled the London scene for the Lake District in the dead of winter.

Viscount Anthony St. Stephens goes undercover as an elderly butler in Delia¿s home because his government superiors believe she killed Charles. However, Anthony finds himself attracted to Delia who questions why she keeps thinking of an aging servant. When she pretends to be her twin sister in high society, Anthony discards his disguise to ¿court¿ her. However, he fears that he has fallen in love with a murderer while Delia is confused by her conflicting feelings.

No question that Victoria Alexander is a talented author as she spins a delightful regency romance. The story line is fun to follow with its comedy of errors as no one is quite like they seem. Though Delia seems a bit out of character either as a moron or a brilliant strategist on an adventure, the plot remains solid and the key characters likable so that readers spend a fine time following along with the antics of the cast.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tzaun More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to read this book because it was another Effington book. However, from the first moment I read it, I knew it was going to be an ok book. The heroine, Delia is a good character. However, what annoys me about her is how she wants such 'grand adventure' which is fine but when the hero, Tony, gives her the adventure she claimed she wanted, she balks. It seems even when her hero has satisfied all her adventures, she's still not satisfied. To me, Delia is a spoiled brat.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth novel by VA I have read. I also read, ¿Until We Meet Again¿ (good), ¿The Wedding Bargain¿ (really good) and ¿The Husband List¿ (not bad). I enjoy this author as her books always have strong female leads and solid and strong male leads. No wimpy characters with her. In turn, she always gives you an interesting plot line and witty dialogue that is never boring. And when I say witty I mean it. Many reviewers say a book is ¿laugh out loud funny¿ or ¿characters that will have you howling with laughter¿ etc¿and I NEVER do. This author really does take witty dialogue to new heights. Kind of tongue in cheek laughter that is just right in a romance novel. Her love scenes are never hot and dramatic ¿ they are not the main ingredient to the stories and that is just fine for me. Some other authors give you steamy and hot ¿ VA gives you wit, fun and adventure. This story as usual had twists and turns to keep you busy. Lead character Delia, ran off with her first steamy lover and married him in haste. Scandal ensued and she was outcast from society. Her husband mysteriously died within a few weeks of marriage and she was left alone to weather the scandal and re-build her life. On the side, Viscount St. Stephens is a spy of the crown and is sent to keep an eye on Delia in case someone wants to harm her. Her late husband was a spy unknown to her so, someone could be after her. St. Stephens masquerades as an old butler running her household and befriends her. He then takes on a dual role when he meets her at a ball later on as himself. Of course as the story progresses, she comes out of mourning, decides to become a woman of adventure and experience and he offers to show her the way. St. Stephens has to hop to and fro as he is a butler one day and the Viscount the next. The story is light and fun and interesting to read. Their relationship develops nicely ¿ both with the butler and with her future lover. The ending works well too. We find out who the killer is of her late husband, how she finds out about St. Stephens dual identities and if their relationship works out and the society accepts them again. Some readers might not buy the whole premise of a young hot guy being able to pose as an old butler but, he was a top spy and going in disguise and doing it well was part of your job. It is a tad irritating that Delia didn¿t have the good sense to not sleep with the first guy who showed her serious interest (her first husband) ¿ she was from a top family after all and should have known better. She was immature to make one mistake and then jump into another relationship with the Viscount only months later. She seemed to always talk about the need for adventure but, I never really felt she was the adventurous type to be honest. I wish her months spent in seclusion made her more wise and wary but¿alas, it made her want to seek another adventure. If you can get past a few of these silly things¿I think this one will work for you. If you are looking for a book that is entertaining and light, this is the perfect book for you. Plus¿the ending of her books never disappoint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another excellent book by Victoria Alexander..Definitely worth reading..
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. The hero was an honest person, no womanizing rogue. Delia was a great person. She had a quality that made her human, she was the kind of character that you can compare to one of your friends. Her love for adventure and slight fear of the unknown made her a wonderfully normal woman. Although the couple fell in love a little faster than I would wish, I can easily forgive Ms. Alexander. The switches and the plot quirks were wonderful and the dialogue was intrigueing. I loved the entire tale, and would recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
::sigh:: What more could a girl want? I was initially interested in the twin aspect, and Victoria Alexander did not fail. A pleasure to read, and I read A LOT of romance. Definitely loved Tony, even with the deception, and Delia was a good person. Only falling, very similar to anything written by Amanda Quick.