A Regency lady must prove a man innocent of murder if she is to have any chance of future happiness.
Clever, independent Dido Kent chafes under the strictures of caring for her wealthy Aunt Manners, who’s visiting her childhood home of Charcombe Manor. The task is Dido’s punishment for refusing an offer of marriage from a cleric with a pack of children after she had already received an offer from William Lomax. Although she loves William, she has given him no answer because she fears that her self-reliance might jeopardize their marriage. Upon their arrival at Charcombe, they discover that Letitia Verney, a wealthy heiress, is missing and that William’s son Tom is suspected of spiriting her away, even though he is to be found in the neighboring town. The annoying George Fenstanton and his charming nephew Lancelot, who owns Charcombe, have a good deal of money invested in a new town they are building at the nearby seaside, and Miss Verney’s fortune would certainly be a help to their scheme. Dido can see that both George’s daughter and Miss Verney’s best friend are hiding secrets. Even her Aunt Manners is acting strangely. When a man bringing information about the disappearance is found murdered, Tom Lomax is arrested, and although his father does not want Dido putting herself in danger by investigating, she knows that any chance of a marriage between them will be over if Tom is not proven innocent.
The fourth in this excellent series (A Woman of Consequence, 2012, etc.), beautifully written in the style of Jane Austen, will leave even die-hard mystery mavens puzzled until the final chapters.