Miss Kitty Charing is the ward of an eccentric penny-pincher, Mr. Matthew Penicuik, who has left his entire fortune to her on the condition that she marry one of his great-nephews or be left broke and homeless upon his death. All would be well and good, if only the nephew Kitty was interested in, Jack Westruther, wasn't a confirmed rake who refuses to be forced into a marriage.
Kitty, enraged with anger and destined to be penniless if she does not accept the hand of one of those chosen for her, steals the housekeeping money and sets in motion a plan to flee to London. While on the run, Kitty bumps into the fashionable, wealthy and honorable Freddy Standen, another of Penicuik's nephew at the local hostelry. Painfully aware that she is now alone in the world, with no hopes of making it on her own, Kitty sees the opportunity to make her childhood love Jack jealous, while also being in the midst of London's society for the first time in her life. Calmed by a punch laden with alcohol, Kitty proposes to a stunned Freddy.
Freddy-who at times might appeared to lack intelligence-has no intention of marrying anyone anytime soon and at first refuses the seemingly preposterous offer. However, upon hearing the conditions of his uncle's will and laden with Kitty's guilt-induced pleas, he is soon persuaded by Kitty to pretend to be her betrothed for a month-an engagement they agree, will me made to be broken.
In no time at all, Kitty and Freddy are in London, where Kitty enters society under the wing of Freddy's sister and finds herself buying the fanciest gowns, mingling with high society and living the very essence of her daydreams. Kitty, stumbling into one misadventure after another, finds herself relying on Freddy's quick thinking and financial kindness as he secretly funds her stay in London by picking up the tab for her shopping sprees. Kitty, surprised by Freddy's cleverness, begins to see Freddy in a new light and realizes that given the chance, one can find love with the most unexpected of people.
Then Jack makes a declaration and it appears that Kitty's childhood dreams are about to come true.
I loved this book! The characters are unique and believable and the story line was incredibly funny. I found myself swept up in Kitty's schemes, rooting for the underdog and laughing hysterically from the very beginning. I am elated that this regency romance, unlike most, where the rake gets the girl, shows us that there is more to love than passion and that love is often found where you least expect it. This is a book you read, hand to your friends and then steal back and read again!
A sham betrothal isn't the only thing that gets Kitty and Freddy into trouble, but it's definitely the beginning...
Freddy is a most unusual hero. He's immensely rich, of course, and not bad-looking, especially with his ultra-starched shirt points and elegant quizzing glass. He gets engaged to his cousin Kitty only to help her get away from their irascible Great-uncle Matthew. The two head for London, where a series of hilarious mishaps threaten their charade. But Freddy discovers hitherto unplumbed depths of cleverness and practicality beneath his dandyish exterior, and Kitty discovers that the rake she was in love with can't hold a candle to her Freddy. He sets every mishap and adventure to rights in the end, surprising all (especially himself) and winning his heart's desire.