Miss Lucy Towerton is very tall and until she inherited a fortune from a distant aunt, she was a wallflower without many promising prospects. So when Cyrus Ravensthorpe – handsome, rich, yet with some unfortunate family connections (his mother, the daughter of a duke, ran away to marry his father, the family solicitor) proposed marriage to her, she could hardly believe her luck. Now her mother wants her to break off their betrothal so she can catch herself a more suitable husband, possibly even Mr. Raventhorpe’s cousin, the Duke of Pole. Lucy doesn’t actually want to marry anyone else, and contrives a plan to be caught in a compromising position with her intended.
Cyrus Ravensthorpe is a man with a plan, a very carefully detailed plan that will ensure that his family regain the position in society they lost when his mother created a scandal by running off to Gretna Green after falling in love with his father. He has worked extremely hard to make himself a fortune, and proposed to Miss Lucy Towerton because 1) She was the daughter of a baronet, 2) Had a spotless reputation and 3) As a wallflower of several seasons, it wasn’t like her family were going to turn down the offer. Now he arrives at a ball to discover that his fiancee is likely to throw him over, as she’s come into a fortune of her own. She no longer needs the money he can offer her. Being so scrupulously careful to avoid anything that smacks of unseemly passion or inappropriate desires, Cyrus made sure he arranged the betrothal with Lucy’s father and paid her the expected calls, but hasn’t actually really paid any attention to the lady, until he may be losing her.
Lucy, emboldened by her new prospects, has been thinking about her fiancee’s strange and restrained behaviour and confronts him (pretending to all others that she intends to break it off with him, so they’ll be left alone). Discovering that she’s only one of many steps in his plan to secure respectability and position, and doesn’t know the faintest thing about her, she jilts him, not to please her ambitious mama, but because she’s come to the realisation that she can do better. Finally seeing Lucy properly for the first time since they met, Cyrus realises that she’s completely right to break the betrothal, but becomes determined to her back, with a proper courtship this time.
The rest of this review, the first of four romances with wallflower heroines I will be reviewing (what can I say, they fit into four different reading challenges at once), can be found here.