In Regency London, Caroline Fortune and her ex-soldier father have been surviving at the edge of poverty for a long time. When her father reports that he has lost all his money in a bad investment, Caroline decides to look for work as a governess.
Soon, her father tells her he has found her a better situation, as companion to Mrs. Catling, the widow of her father’s former colonel. In his ebulliant way, he assumes Caroline could easily be left Mrs. Catling’s fortune. Caroline is not pleased with the situation, nor does she have any hopes of Mrs. Catling’s generosity, but seeing no other option, she takes the position. With no relatives other than her father to fall back on, as her mother’s relatives disowned her mother after her marriage, Caroline moves to Brighton to wait on Mrs. Catling.
Caroline soon learns that Mrs. Catling is demanding and petulant. She treats her servants harshly. When Mrs. Catling’s niece and nephew, the Downings, come to call, Caroline witnesses how her employer manipulates Matthew Downing with the promise of her fortune. Still, Caroline manages to get along with the Downings and Mrs. Catling fairly well, even receiving unwanted confidences from Matthew. However, her dependent position unexpectedly leaves her open to an insult from an unscrupulous man.
Re-opened contact with her relatives eventually removes her to an entirely new neighborhood and life, and she makes some new friends. After awhile, though, her experiences in Brighton return to haunt her.
I don’t often read romance novels and tend to stick to the older authors I love when I do. I have found no writer who can surpass Georgette Heyer in Regency romances. But a friend recommended this novel to me, and I found it quite entertaining. It does not seem simply a copy of Heyer as some other Regency novels have. The dialogue is witty. Once Caroline leaves Brighton she meets some endearing characters, and the plot is both complex and interesting. Caroline is an intelligent and engaging heroine. For some light, escapist reading, I recommend Indiscretion.