Beautiful heiress Lady Clara Fairfax is getting tired of proposals from men she doesn’t want, so when she meets brilliant, compelling barrister Oliver Radford, she is intrigued, then enthralled as the two attempt to save an urchin and survive the dangerous aftermath of their benevolent alliance.
Lady Clara is the catch of the season, but so far no one has tempted her to be caught. To escape the endless line of suitors vying for her hand in marriage she has become involved in the Milliners’ Society for the Education of Indigent Females, which “housed and educated girls determined, against prodigious odds, to be respectable.” Tired of being a society ornament, she finds great pleasure in improving lives, and when one of the society’s protégées asks for help retrieving her brother from a sordid street gang, Clara approaches Oliver Radford, a barrister well-known for his powerful legal mind and his flexible social connections from all walks of life. Radford is a perfect ally for the task. However, rescuing the boy puts them all in unexpected danger from both a risky illness and a vicious enemy. At first drawn to Radford’s intelligence, which too often swings toward impatience, Clara is torn between putting him in his place and rising far above his low expectations, but once he understands that her outer beauty and fashion-plate style are simply window dressing to a bright mind and conscientious spirit, they understand they have met their matches—and perfect mates—in each other. Now all they have to do is outwit their enemies and settle into an unexpected social position, both of which are complicated obstacles to a happy future. Chase moves beyond the couture Noirot sisters in her historical Dressmakers series, and the unconventional pairing of an aristocrat and a barrister, plus an exploration of London poverty and the well-intentioned "ragged schools," adds fascinating social and historical texture.
Chase retains her well-earned star status.