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Last year Deanna Raybourn diverted from her Lady Julia Grey series and gave us the delightful "Spear of Summer Grass" set in 1920's mid Africa featuring notorious socialite Delilah Drummond. In this prequel to her next book "City of Jasmine" Raybourn brings back an earlier Deliah in 1914 when she was married to her beloved Johnny, who was about to go to fight in WWI. Not to be deterred by the war and Johnny's impending departure, Delia decides to throw a New Year's Eve party designed to be the event of the year.
When sending out the invitations Deliah has matchmaking intentions for Evangeline (Evie) Merriweather, an impecunious granddaughter of a Earl who seems to have no clear future. What Deliah doesn't know is that Evie has always dreamed of a life full of adventure, encouraged by her vivacious Aunt Dove whose life was full of scandalous affairs. Aunt Dove takes Evie under her wing and converts an old designer dress into a daring outfit for the party and sprays her with a scent jasmine "one of the most seductive scents imaginable".
What follows at the party is love at first sight, but is this the match that Deliah has planned? At the end a very changed Evie returns a book on "Practical Applications in Lovemaking ...." to Aunt Dove with the comment "It was a kind thought but not needed. At all."
All in all a charming and amusing prequel novella to whet our appetites for when we next meet a very different and adventurous Evie several years later in "City of Jasmine".