As a young woman, clever, self-reliant Lydia Templeton scandalised society by rejecting Lewis Durrant, the county's most eligible bachelor. Ten years later, Lydia has no regrets and, having concluded that matters of the heart need no longer trouble her, she is quite happy to remain unwed. But others still seek Lydia's advice on their love lives, and when her godmother implores her to take her young ward Phoebe's search for a suitor in hand, it's hard to refuse. In truth, the prospect fills Lydia with horror (especially as she must go to Bath of all places to do it), but poor Phoebe, having managed to promise herself to two men at once, rather needs her help. However, finding a solution to Phoebe's dilemma proves far trickier than anyone imagined. As affairs become increasingly tangled, Phoebe more muddled and Lydia's exasperation grows, the confirmed spinster finds that her own heart is not quite the closed book she thought it was!
I’ve heard Morgan being compared to Heyer and Austen and while his characters seemed to me to have a more modern voice there’s no doubt that I found it a pleasantly enjoyable read.
Lydia Templeton is a single woman and very independent. A few years ago she refused her neighbor’s, Lewis Durrant, offer of marriage. But they have remained on friendly terms and while finding him a bit stuffy and boring she does in fact enjoy their conversations. Lydia has no regrets about refusing him, she much prefers her independent, intellectually enriching life and since she is now 30 years old she feels that matters of the heart are now behind her.
But while she may feel that, she is still called upon to solve other people’s love problems. When her Godmother asks her to help her young friend Phoebe solving her problems Lydia is unhappy but unable to refuse at the same time.
Phoebe’s problem is that she fell in love with two suitors and eventually promised her hand to both of them. While staying in Bath they meet the two gentlemen and Lydia is relied on to advice Phoebe to which one she should choose. It’s not easy for Lydia who hates Bath, dislikes having to meddle in other people’s affairs and to top it all finds herself meeting Durrant everywhere they go. In fact while Lydia and Phoebe are making the rounds visiting people and attending functions it soon becomes apparent that Durrant is looking for a wife.
Soon Lydia realizes that not only she must help Phoebe but that she may have to sort out her heart as well. Interesting secondary characters provide the perfect counterpart for witty dialogue and interesting banter. Phoebe also proves to have more depth that it seemed as she eventually manages to take the reins of her own life and surprise everyone.
My one complaint about the book is the end comes about very abruptly, after spending such a nice time with these characters I wanted to savor it a bit during a few more scenes.