Miss Caroline Fortune has the perfect right to question the aptness of her surname. Her mother, born into landed gentry, started the downward trend when she married a charming wastrel of a soldier, being disowned by her family as a result. The mishaps only escalated after the untimely death of her mother. Growing up in her father's wake, Caroline learned from an early age to dissemble, dodge, make do, and generally get by on what she could cobble together. Finally, when he loses even their last few pounds of rent money, she hires on as companion to the irascible Mrs. Catling, a wealthy widow whose joys in life seem to come mostly from creating misery in the lives of all who know her. In spite of her employer's difficult nature, though, Caroline gets along reasonably well, even becoming friendly acquaintances with Mrs. Catling's beleaguered niece and nephew, and their friends. Until the day, that is, when she is fired for expecting a day off to attend her father's funeral. Fortunately for Miss Fortune (I couldn't help myself), her aunt and uncle (her mother's sister) have finally tracked her down, and are delighted to clasp her to the bosom of their family. This begins a new chapter in Caroline's life, one which will eventually sort out good friends from bad, and lead her to relationships she never thought she would have.
Indiscretion is a charming piece of Regency parlor comedy and romance, very much in the style of Jane Austen. With the exception of 2 or 3 brief sections where the author inexplicably changes to present tense-which I found confusing and irritating-the narrative flows along as smoothly and gracefully as a river through the English countryside, and the dialogue is full of Regency wit and manners. My only other caveats would be what I felt was a somewhat rushed ending, and the fact that, although this is listed as a romance, there is little romantic action (in the modern sense) in the story.
If you particularly enjoyed Georgette Heyer's early work, if you always wished Jane Austen had written more than six novels, give Indiscretion a try. While it won't be to everyone's taste, serious aficionados of Regency fiction should be well satisfied by it.
When your father is a man of expensive tastes and schemes but very little money, you soon learn to make do. So when Captain Fortune, a well-meaning but profligate ex-soldier in Regency England, tells his daughter Caroline that they are ruined, she automatically starts seeking employment as a governess. Her father, however, has far grander designs for Miss Fortune...
Caro is to become the companion of Mrs. Catling, the rich, fierce widow of her father's old colonel. As Mrs. Catling amuses herself by tormenting her relatives and servants, Caro resolves to make the best of the situation, and soon her beauty and intelligence attract the attentions of male admirers.
Surrounded by people with an alarming readiness to reveal each other's confidences, Caroline is exasperated to find herself implicated in their indiscretions. But will Miss Fortune be able to avoid losing her reputation without losing her head? And will she find at least one good man amongst the genteel set who will take her side, and, indeed, her fancy?