One eligible bachelor, three beautiful women, one family rivalry…
When the Countess of Nevern writes to say that her son, Viscount Pamyngton, is unexpectedly returning home to Nevern Hall, Lady Denham sees a perfect opportunity for one of her daughters to capture him in holy matrimony.
The only question is which girl will he choose?
Of the three Denham girls currently out in society, Eleanor is deemed the most attractive, even if she is rather young, and quite fancies the idea of marrying Pamyngton and becoming the next Countess of Nevern.
Louisa, the eldest, cares not a jot for Pamyngton or his title, as her heart lies elsewhere — she is hopelessly in love with a clergyman whose meagre living makes him an entirely unsuitable suitor.
And Catherine is an impetuous little minx, who often speaks without thinking and is far too flighty to be the wife of a viscount!
This is not the first time a union between Nevern and Denham has been contemplated.
Plans were once made for a marriage between Pamyngton and Fanny Denham, the oldest of the six Denham girls, but when the viscount fell madly in love with the beautiful Georgiana Eversley, the wedding was cancelled.
Fanny is now happily married to a colonel and residing in Brighton — and Louisa, Catherine, and Eleanor have been greatly looking forward to visiting their sister on a bit of a holiday.
But Pamyngton’s arrival at Nevern Hall throws these intentions into disarray.
Lady Denham has absolutely no intention of letting any of her girls out of her sight as long as Pamyngton remains nearby.
But Catherine has other ideas and determines that she shall just have to make her way to Brighton herself.
Her adventure quickly runs afoul as she discovers the dangers of being a solitary young woman walking the roads with neither protection nor money.
So when a mysterious stranger helps her to return home unscathed she is deeply grateful.
However, Catherine is mortified to discover the next day that her handsome stranger is the very same Viscount Pamyngton that her mother desires her to marry.
Desperate to avoid further embarrassment, she does her best to avoid Pamyngton all together.
But it’s only when he starts to take an interest in her older sister Louisa that Catherine realises her true feelings.
Is she already too late…?
When Viscount Pamyngton returns home, he is a bit astonished to learn that his mother, the Countess of Nevern, is setting him up to get married. She and her friend Lady Denham think that he'd do well to marry one of the many daughters of Lady Denham. I mean, five girls still unattached call for desperate measures, don't they? And the same counts for an unmarried son of 30 who shows no intention of changing his marital status, obviously, at least according to his mother. That's why the poor daughters of Lady Denham are not allowed to go to Brighton as promised.
Now we come to said desperate measures again because not all of the young ladies are content to sit around and wait for a certain Viscount instead of going to Brighton. So that's how Catherine Denham ends up being rescued by Viscount Pamyngton when she tries to travel on her own to Brighton. Due to this rescue those two get to know each other rather well - and, well, let's say that at least one (or maybe even both) of them wouldn't mind to deepen this relationship but alas...nothing is ever that easy, is it?
I really loved the well developed characters in this book, especially Catherine, the second eldest of the "available" daughters who cares for each and every one, gets upset very easily but gets over it just as easily either. Her spirited and forgiving nature paired with her natural wit turned her very quickly into my favorite characters but her elder sister Louisa was very sweet as well - and I must admit that I was a bit upset to see how she was suffering because she is not allowed to be with the one man she really loves. Viscount Pamyngton was also a very charming and nice character whom I liked a lot.
The story itself is reliable and apart from some twists foreseeable but in a good way. It is not just another one of "those stories" with exchangeable characters but you get the kind of story you expect and it is the characters and the wonderful telling of the story that make the difference and turn it in an interesting reading experience that you'll enjoy and cherish, at least that's what I did.