When Abigail Wendover is away from her home of Bath visiting her family, she hears disturbing rumors that her niece Fanny, an heiress, is being courted by a fortune hunter named Stacy Calverleigh. Returning home, she finds that her 17-year-old headstrong niece believes they are madly in love, and she is not ready to listen to arguments that Calverleigh, a much older man, has not behaved as he should. He has also worked his way into the good graces of Abigail’s foolish sister Selina.
Abigail encounters a man named Calverleigh in a hotel parlor, and she is shocked to find him neither of good looks nor address and much older than she is herself. He is further prone to uttering the most shocking remarks that unfortunately make her laugh. Soon Abigail finds that this Calverleigh is not Stacy but his uncle Miles, the black sheep of the family, who was sent away to India after a youthful scandal and has now returned. However, he is unwilling to interest himself in the situation between her niece and his nephew. He is only interested in Abigail herself.
Although Abigail knows she shouldn’t encourage his attentions and finds some of his views about family and duty shocking, he never fails to make her laugh. Soon she discovers that he is even more unsuitable a companion than she thought, for his youthful indiscretion was to run off with Fanny’s own mother, who later married Abigail’s older brother!
Abigail is one of Heyer’s more mature heroines, an intelligent, sensible woman with a sense of humor some of her relatives consider unfortunate. Of course, the journey out of the tangle her niece is in will be enjoyable and entertaining. Although this novel is not as funny as some of my favorites, it is always a pleasure to spend time with Heyer’s creations.