A refreshingly limber English period (1861-70) romance which dandles humor, gravity, and implausibilities with equal esprit. That startling beauty, Amanda Malfrey, a rose raised in a thorn bed of a dreadful noble family, is sore beset by the bombazine morality of Victorian England: when the young Prince of Wales visits Lord and Lady Malfrey and mistakes youngest daughter Amanda for a servant, an innocent dawn kiss results. . . and leads to scandal! ""The girl is ruined,"" says stuffy Lord M.--and Amanda is then doomed to banishment for life. But Malfrey's powerful great-aunt, Lady Gratton (""at eighty-six a terrifying sight""), sensibly takes hold, dredging up a husband from the ""distressed nobility""--one Lord Devereux, of a bad skin and reputation. Devereux inexplicably bolts on his wedding night, however. . . to Amanda's bewildered relief. And meanwhile Amanda's sister Hermione has married handsome, vigorous St. Cloud, who doesn't love her. So, naturally, when Amanda and St. Cloud meet, they'll ignite on contact. But the two sacrificially bank fires; Amanda leaves for Paris and the aristocratic household of Mme. Langcourt and her nephew (the Prince); she becomes a society item, learns the horrid truth about her husband's sexual proclivities, is delicately courted by the kind and elegant Prince; and she will secretly bear St. Cloud's child (who will be whisked away by barren Hermione). Wearied and restless, Amanda now ships to America with a group of nuns to nurse soldiers of the South in the Civil War: after heroic service and misery, she's about to be hung as a spy--when along comes St. Cloud. . . and some back-in-England plot juggling to permit the Amanda/St. Cloud union. Amanda is a satisfying heroine--good-natured, spunky, and a great tea-tray flinger--and this entertainment is bright, quick, and cheekily buoyant.