Henrietta Melville is in the unenviable position for a regency lady of being unmarried and living in her brother’s house, with a sister-in-law who dislikes her. She’s not dependent, since she has her own fortune, but surely she needs a husband and her own household? Her friends have just the candidate in mind, the Hon. Julian Aldwyn, an eligible chap who is looking for a wife who will produce an heir, to please his father. An unfortunate love affair in his youth has left Aldwyn disillusioned with romance; he wants ‘a conformable wife’. To his chagrin, Henrietta turns out to be not at all grateful for his advances. She is a sensible woman but also romantic and not about to marry in order to be someone’s housekeeper. The two part on bad terms and Henrietta goes to stay with a friend in Bath.
In Bath, a new wardrobe and a determination to have some fun while still young turn her into an attractive and flirtatious young woman, rather than the dowdy, sober one she appeared before. When Aldwyn visits Bath he is miffed to find her surrounded by admirers and thinks he must have been mistaken in her character. The reader longs to bang their heads together until they realise how well suited they are but if the path of true love ran smooth, there would be no story.
I’d not previously heard of this author and her regency romances but, on the strength of this one, I’m glad they’ve been reprinted. This is a light comedy of manners, historically accurate as far as I can tell and good fun. I found it refreshing that she doesn’t have her characters use regency slang all the time, a trait which irritates me in Georgette Heyer. Jane Austen’s characters all speak in plain English, after all.
I read this thanks to the publishers and NetGalley.