A rather tuneless exercise in Regency romance--tone-deaf to period ambience, short on redeeming trills, and fitted out with speechy feminist anachronisms (about ""roles,"" etc.) that bong leadenly. Alexandra Cox-Neville has pined, since age twelve, for the love of divine Darius Wentworth, heir to nearby Charteris, estate of the Baron of Bladen. And, though Alex's tight-fisted, male-chauvinist father disapproves of the Whig-ish Baron, he allows Alex to remain at Charteris to recover from a sprained ankle: Lord Bladen, delighted to have a brainy female on the premises, introduces her to higher learning; even better, Alex is able to aid Darius in his run for Parliament. But Darius, alas, will marry the beautiful, vapid Philomena, who dies in childbirth, leaving the boy ""Crumpet"" (for whom, curiously, Darius shows no love). Alex, however, lavishes love and care on the child--whose illness and death finally expose Darius' more sensitive side, bringing the twosome rather closer together. So, when Alex's Papa tries to marry her off, she squirms out and races to Darius to declare her love--only to stumble onto Darius' mistress. Then: it's off in disguise to London, to claim the money she has secretly earned by writing novels; as ""Arabella Marlowe,"" she's the toast of lit'ry London. And she refuses Darius when he comes around: ""I am my own mistress. I support myself on money I honestly earned."" But finally, after Alex nearly weds dilettante Geoffry (Crumpet's real sire) to save Darius from a duel, the sweethearts run off together. . . and explain and explain and explain. As with Brown's The Emerald Necklace: a busy plot floated on lazy prose.