This is the third of the six book series of Regency romances by the author of the Agatha Raisin murder mysteries. They are, of course, no more than fluff, mildly entertaining yarns of misunderstandings and infatuations and cross-purposes and secret elopements, leading to the inevitable happy ever after at the end, but enjoyable enough to while away a few hours.
The plot is much as before: the Squire is impoverished again, despite having married off his two eldest daughters to wealthy husbands, so he decides to set up a marriage for the third daughter, Deirdre, with Lord Harry Desire, a young man who stands to inherit a fortune, but only if he marries. Unfortunately for this beautiful plan, Deirdre is in love with the ne’er-do-well from a neighbouring estate, and so the merry-go-round begins. The trouble with books like this is that they stand or fall on the strength of the characters, since the plot is essentially a formula. Deirdre, sadly, is almost as silly as her older sisters were in the two previous books. It’s a pity the author can’t find a way to reconcile naivety and immaturity with just a modicum of common sense, because it seems so implausible that any reasonably intelligent young man would want to marry anyone who does quite so many silly things. Luckily, Our Hero is not just intelligent, but perceptive enough to detect the many good qualities of the heroine, buried as they are beneath so much seeming stupidity.
Once the plot gets properly underway, things build nicely to the usual unravelling of all the misunderstandings. There are a few genuinely amusing moments, a certain amount of farce and a rather likeable hero, even if the heroine never really seems to deserve him. As with the previous books, it’s the man who has to show initiative and common sense, while the woman runs around being childish, and this pattern is becoming repetitive. The conclusion was enjoyable enough to merit three stars but I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series after this.