Noblesse Oblige

Helen Argers, Author
Helen Argers, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-312-11324-7
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Hardcover - 424 pages - 978-0-7838-1230-4
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The enterprising young heroine of this charming Victorian romance brings panache to Argers's latest. Hidden on her father's country estate, Caroline Richmond dreams of a London season and finally convinces her miserly father to sponsor her debut. When she captures the attention of London's most eligible bachelor, Branville, the Marquis of Kimston, Caroline expects their engagement, but the season ends and so do Branville's attentions. Ashamed, Caroline returns to the country. Three years later, her father betroths her to Branville's father, the Duke of Walverston. Branville is livid that he can't prevent the match, and especially now that Caroline is rejecting his own proposal of marriage. The day after the wedding, however, Caroline finds herself a widow and Branville the new Duke, and their battle of wills begins. Caroline returns to London, where she is a big hit, especially with Queen Victoria; she becomes a patroness of the arts and Lady Bountiful to the needy. But again dark clouds shadow her life-until Branville comes to the rescue. Entertaining plot twists and nicely researched historical background enrich the narrative, especially Argers's (An UnLikely Lady) efforts to show the excesses of a decaying society and the emergence of social reform. If only she could make the reader believe that a 20-year-old country miss could become a lady and a noted social reformer in the twinkling of an eye. (Nov.)
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