I think I have read this before, but it would have been sometime ago. I listened to the audio version, which was very lovely.
Here’s the blurb …
The novel is set in Bath, Somerset and centres on two main characters: Miss Abigail Wendover and Mr Miles Calverleigh.
At the beginning of the novel, Abigail’s niece Fanny claims to have formed a mutual “lasting attachment” with Stacey Calverleigh, to Abigail’s dismay. Stacey is reputed to be a “gamester”, a “loose fish”, and a “gazetted fortune-hunter”—that is, he has a gambling habit, is a libertine, and is on the look-out for a wealthy marriage. Abigail enlists the assistance of Stacey’s cousin, Miles Calverleigh, to prevent a clandestine marriage between Stacey and Fanny. Miles is the black sheep of the Calverleigh family, but Abigail finds herself attracted to his wit and unconventionality.
This was published in 1966, which must have been at the end of Heyer’s writing career. It has (what became a bit of a thing for her) a flighty young heroine and a mature one (mature being in her late twenties!). The relationship between Abigail and Miles is beautifully portrayed. We know early on he is keen on her, and they have a lovely friendship. It reminds me a bit of the relationship in the The Unknown Ajax.
This novel has all of things I love about Heyer; fashion, wit, weird regency slang and independent heroines. There are a few things that date it a bit; the name Fanny for one. There is a conversation between Abigail and Miles where they discuss ‘her poor dear fanny’. Making your fortune in India is probably frowned upon nowadays, and she does describe a singer wobbling like a blancmange.
I love how Stacey Calverleigh is routed horse, foot and artillery so to speak.