Droll, willful, 18-year-old Dolly Blanchard secretly adores childhood-playmate Richard Daventry, nephew of her stepfather. But Richard has fallen hard for Regency beauty Melisande--whom he has barely a chance of wedding, however, now that the Daventry estate is going bankrupt. So selfless Dolly, who has a personal fortune, determines to put Richard back on his financial feet, even after Richard vehemently declines a direct cash donation, She tries to secretly save the estate by buying a dairy herd, draining marshland, and such--with mixed success. (Richard seems to thwart her at every, turn.) Later, with help from her new chum, candid fortune-hunter Damon Kendrick (""I did snabble an heiress once and we were halfway to the altar""), Dolly arranges, for Richard's father to make a small fortune by buying up seemingly worthless shipping-cargo shares. (Thanks to a servant with a sailor brother, Dolly knows that the ship, contrary to reports, didn't go down.) And even when offered convincing evidence that Melisande doesn't truly love Richard, Dolly stubbornly keeps trying to play the noble matchmaker--racing to prevent Melisande's elopement with a wealthy suitor. . . until, at long, long last, the step-cousins reveal their mutual love. Simply plotted froth, heavy on the period slang and the period clothes (from stepsister Clio's ""white sarcenet with the blue forget-me-not trim"" to Richard's ""corbeau-coloured coat with covered buttons and white marcella waistcoat"")--but tart enough here and there to keep Ellingson's second chatty Regency moving along pleasantly.