One way for Lady Diana Bellrose to discourage an unwanted match is to confide to her deadly dull suitor, Young George, that she is already secretly engaged. But to whom? Desperately casting about for a name to put on her phantom fiancé, she hits upon that of her best friend's brother, Roger, Baron Rushden. Not that she remembers anything about him from their one brief meeting several years before, but Young George promises to keep her secret and Diana feels gleefully free. She does know that Roger, having displeased the regent, has been banished to his country estate.
Young George, hoeever, is too weak to withstand his father's bullying. He betrays Diana's trust, and the "engagement" becomes the talk of the ton. Diana is in serious difficulties, and never so much as when she comes face to face with the Lord Rushden himself. To her surprise, Roger tells her he is determined to allow the "betrothal" to stand.
What Diana does not know is that for twenty-seven generations, the Rushden heir has died before his thirtienth birthday, and Roger, at twenty-nine years and some months, is convinced that his life is about to end. Urged to marry and produce an heir, he seizes the opportunity provided by Diana's ruse in order to satisfy his mother.
Things do not work out according to anyone's plan, however, and the unexpected result of Diana's hasty deception and Roger's gloomy predictions make for a tale as delightful as it is surprising.
Jacket design by Andrew Rhodes.
First Printing: 1985
OUT OF PRINT