By Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks Casablanca, 1949. 312 pgs. Romance
Arabella Tallant isn't a likely candidate for an advantageous marriage; her parson father has eight children and little money to support them. Still, when she is given the opportunity to stay with her godmother in London and be presented to society, she (and her family) can't help but hope she'll be able to marry well, and perhaps prepare the way for her sisters to do so as well. En route to London, though, her borrowed carriage breaks down, and she seeks temporary shelter from the rain at a nearby home--the home, as it turns out, of Mr. Robert Beaumaris, the Nonparelil of good society. Wealthy beyond belief, Mr. Beaumaris is used to the adoration of women, and Arabella overhears him telling a friend that she's undoubtedly a fortune hunter, she impetuously declares herself to be an heiress. From that moment, Arabella's fame spreads and every man in London is after the hand of the young "heiress". Mr. Beaumaris, at first thinking only to make a game of Arabella, can't help but have a change of heart as he glimpses the woman beneath the society mask. And Arabella, despite her assertions to not care a whit for the Nonparelil, finds that her invented fortune could stand between her and true love.
This is a fun story but at times, it got bogged down by the slang of the day and descriptions. I trust Heyer that she got it right, but for someone who isn't quite so versed in the language (and, okay, doesn't care that much about setting), it slowed down the story, and actually gave us a little less time with the characters. Satisfying overall, and probably something I would have enjoyed more if I'd mentally prepared for a slower read rather than a quicker one.
3.5 stars. Clean read.