BELLE OF BATH by Lillian Shelley


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Tangy Regency fluff--featuring Charlotte Fanning, who's steadfast in her devotion to the memory of her late fiancÉ (he perished in the service of Lord Wellington). So, to shock Charlotte out of her irritating mourning and ""megrims,"" her parents shunt her to the Bath establishment of her godmother, the snappish Dowager Countess of Melksham, whose no-nonsense approach to the marriage-and-matching game allows little room for Charlotte's insistence on ""wearing the willow"" and indulging in statuesque mopes. (""Her air of suffering is the outside of enough."") Together, then, with gossipy, wily Lady Kilverton, Lady Melksham arranges to thrust Charlotte into the arms of Lady Kilverton's grandson Lord Anthony Chelmarsh: handsome, uppish, and bored-silly-with-Bath. But the two hardly mesh, due to an earlier mud-spattering incident, and only after Charlotte is poked around to balls and parties, initially against her will, does she even consider two suitors: pleasant if obsequious Hubert Mayfield; and young pup Harry Berrington, chum of Charlotte's high-spirited brother George. Harry is smitten with Charlotte, challenges Hubert, forces an embrace on Charlotte, and eventually withdraws in a deep megrim of his own. Charlotte, having had enough, decides to go home. But the dowagers and Lord Chelmarsh work out a ruse to prevent her--all of which results in a Charlotte-napping, a dash to Gretna Green, an escape in a hay cart, and rescue by Lord C. A brisk tale--just the right pace and length for a Gretna Green steeplechase.

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday