The story opens in an art exhibition with a Regency Miss lamenting on the cavalier treatment of her brother by the woman he loved who had cast him aside. Lydia Templeton listens sympathetically and although I guessed she was the woman in question, I was still thoroughly entertained by the interchange and Lydia's bewilderment with a man whose favour she had attracted by no more effort than by, 'Suppressing my yawns in his presence'.
Lydia is an intelligent woman in her twenties, who once scandalized society by refusing the hand of wealthy and eligible Lewis Durrant. Having given up on Lydia as marriage material, she is selected by her Godmother to chaperone a young orphan to Bath. Pheobe Rae is a beautiful heiress who has two suitors. The sojourn at the fashionable spas is to enable her to make a decision about which, if either, of these young man she intends to accept.
Lydia tries her best to be impartial, and when Mr Durrant arrives in Bath purporting to be in search of a bride and latches onto the party to watch the fun, things become complicated. Miss Templeton is more engaging than she knows, because she manages to evoke strong emotions in men without even trying.
It wasn't difficult to work out what would happen, but to say the story was predictable would be an insult, nor was my enjoyment spoiled by this foreknowledge. The gentle, Regency language with its humour and visual richness, not to mention its irony, was a treat. Even 'must hate' characters were a delight and at the words, 'It's Mrs Vawser', I hunkered down to enjoy the outrageously entertaining dialogue.
A fabulous, gentle read to be enjoyed on a lounger in the sunshine with a cool drink beside you. Bliss!! I had the good fortune to meet the author too and my copy is signed. A definite keeper.