Read for the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge.
Arabella is the oldest daughter of a vicar in Yorkshire, so has middling prospects at best. But, her godmother is her mother’s childhood best friend, who became a Countess, and Lady Arabella has agreed to bring Arabella out for a season in London. It’s the perfect opportunity for Arabella to make a favorable match, and maybe even secure the future of her three younger sisters.
Arabella’s one fault is a slight tendency to impetuosity. On the way to London, when her carriage breaks down, Arabella and her companion seek shelter in a nearby house, not knowing that it belongs to Robert Beaumaris, who is the most eligible man in London. When she overhears him mentioning to his friend that he’s quite sick of women coming all the way out to the country to throw themselves at him, she is incensed, and in a moment of pique, claims to be an heiress herself, who is going to London to escape the hoards of suitors throwing themselves at her in Yorkshire.
Once in London, Arabella finds herself invited to all the best parties, and she and the Lady Arabella can scarcely believe her luck, until it comes back to them that everyone believes her to be a great heiress. Arabella quickly realizes how bad the situation is – she won’t be able to marry anyone that believes she has money, and she may have ruined her prospects, as well as her sisters.
Fortunately, turns out Robert is enchanted with her, and naturally, after several trials and travails, they end up engaged. (This is not a spoiler. If you can’t spot it happening the very instant they meet, there’s no hope for you.) I suppose the story is pretty silly, but Arabella is so enchanting, and Robert is so exasperated by the whole thing that I loved it.