Another smartly tailored and ribboned Regency charmer by the author of The Caretaker's Wife (1978). Restless Arabella bullies her sensible ""country wren"" sister Caroline and pleasant brother-in-law Richard into a London season at the Welby town house--for shopping, for ""routs and riots and evening squeezes,"" and Romance. Both Arabella and Jane, her school chum in London, are in search of distraction. (Jane's mother, the commanding Lady Russett, is opposed to frivolous pursuits and is headlong after ""genius"" and the life of the mind, but will not hear of Jane's love for Robert Spenser, an impecunious curate.) So off they go with two amorous Dragoons: a clandestine correspondence and meetings are carried on with the help of curiously quiet Phoebe Hunt, Arabella's maid. But an escapade with the Dragoons has a tumultous ending with the girls escaping through a window, rowing damply on the Thames, and finally being rescued by Cornelius Watts, the Welby family friend and solicitor. (Watts has enough problems of his own concerning a dead love, a fond regard for Caroline, and a dangerous scandal about an illegitimate child.) And the season palls with Jane's illness, though Arabella does manage to spirit Robert into the sickroom. Finally, however, there's a triple coup when, at the estate of the attractive Earl of Epsworth, two young couples--the Earl and a village girl; Jane and Robert--snap parental bonds while Arabella and Cornelius Watts lock hearts and futures. Whitehead supplies a modest, well-polished bit of everything you've always wanted in a Regency romance--comfortably convincing people, a quicksilver plot (light but never frothy), an informed affection for artifacts and mores of the period, and--above all--a sense of great good fun. A period delight--period.