The elegant travelling carriage which bore Miss Wychwood from her birthplace, on the border of Somerset and Wiltshire, to her home in Bath, proceeded on its way at a decorous pace.
–Georgette Heyer - Lady of Quality - c.1972, 73
Miss Annis Wychwood is in her late twenties, and as she is still unmarried, she believes her future to hold nothing but remaining single. However she is not about to retreat into the clutches of her brother’s family and become “the spinster aunt”, as much as she loves her sister-in-law, there are some things which simply can not be allowed to happen. So she has set up home in Bath, with an elderly cousin to live with her, for propriety’s sake. On a journey from her brother’s establishment to her own, she comes across a broken down chaise and offers her assistance. The young woman she rescues is most thankful for not being left at the side of the road, but things are about to change in Miss Wychwood’s life, for she is the ward of Mr. Oliver Carleton, and she has run away.
Okay, anyone who has ever read any Georgette Heyer will probably already know that Miss Wychwood shall not remain single. And that she will end up falling madly in love with Carleton, and that they will live happily ever after. But speculation about that aspect of the plot is not why anyone reads Heyer. Instead you read her to enjoy her writing, her characters, and her dialogue. And in all those aspects this book is a success.
Annis is, in many ways, a typical Heyer heroine. She is strong-willed and knows what she wants. Maybe a little “bookish” but she is content with her life. She has had offers of marriage, but she has turned them all down, because she never wanted to settle for a man that maybe she might get along with. And has convinced herself that she will be happy alone. Until Carleton comes along. With rudeness and his reputation, he is not someone that Annis could ever have imagined she would fall in love with. And yet he is her match in many ways. Of course now she has to persuade herself that she wants to give up the single independent life she has created.
And if the two main characters aren’t enough to keep you entertained there are the antics of Lucy, the runaway, and her childhood friend and almost fiancée, Ninian. They may be friends but they definitely do not wish to be married, their families wishes be damned. And there is also the wonderfully irritating Miss Farlow. Another unmarried woman, she is at the far end of the spinster spectrum from Annis.