Another likable Regency from the author of Bething's Folly (1981), this one featuring a ben-ben bonus: the plot is often moved along by a scamper of toy Maltese dogs--those mop-lets with long, silky, white hair. Noelle, eldest daughter of the late Viscount Sterling (a man of rakish habits but great charm and kindness), is now about to ""pitchfork into the ton"" with her impoverished family: brother Win, an appealing young chap who prefers the country; sister Ferne, a veritable rose of innocent beauty, with the brain of a peagoose; and dear Aunt Hattie, who tipples a bit. The family's assets? Well, there's a small inheritance, a London house (thanks to the demise of formidable world-traveler Aunt Sylvia), Win's title, Ferne's beauty . . . and those Maltese doggies--originally brought home from Italy by the late Viscount for his adored wife (who died soon after her husband). So Noelle places an ad in the paper offering the exotic dogs--at an exotic price--for ""Ladies of Quality."" And soon to be caught in the family not is that ""noted Corinthian,"" Justin, the cool Earl of Wrenthe, who is after a Maltese pooch for his Italian mistress. Noelle and Justin have an abrasive encounter over the dog-sale contract; Ferne commits some appalling social gaffes--for which Noelle holds Justin responsible. Nonetheless, while the family gets that crucial entrÃ‰e to Almacks (the Regency period's answer to Studio 54), love blooms between the Earl and the quasi-Heiress. And after a few capers--covering up the butler's smuggling activities, rescuing Ferne from abduction by a rotter (with help from two yipping Maltese)--all the correct pairings are made at last. Winning frivolity . . . especially for any dog-lovers among the Regency crowd.