With a head for mathematical figures and economics, nineteen-year-old Arabella Heartstone is well able to manage her deceased father’s business affairs and her own sizable fortune. With her mother plaguing her to marry, Miss Heartstone takes matters into her own hands, using private investigators to research all the titled men of the ton and making a proposal of marriage to the most appealingaristocrat.
Despite his desperate need for an infusion of cash, the Marquess of Blake is not interested in the presumptuous heiress who throws herself at him in Hyde Park. An admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft, he suggests that this forward Miss Heartstone make her way in the world without a husband–she is quite capable of managing her own affairs and would not her fortune disappear into her husband’s pockets as soon as she were to be married? Rather, Blake encourages Miss Heartstone to set up her own establishment as soon as she comes of age and pursue life on her own terms. Intrigued by this idea, Miss Heartstone takes Blake’s advice. In gratitude, she anonymously dispatches five thousand pounds to fund a venture he is making in India.
What follows is a correspondence between the two over the course of seven years between two people separated by the length of the British Empire. Blake, unaware that his benefactor is a beautiful young woman, shares his experiences, his sketches, his hopes, and his dreams with his financial partner. Miss Heartstone, treated as an equal by her correspondent, finds herself respected, valued, and falling in love with the Marquess. But when Blake determines to return to England, the charade must end–and how will the Marquess respond when he finds out the deception his business partner has unwittingly practiced on him?
I loved the premise of this book. The letters exchanged by the two were excellently written, and the romance between the protagonists was tenderly portrayed. I also liked the conflict in the hero between being a proponent of the rights of women in general and objecting to those rights for his woman. Unfortunately, this book faltered in its execution. The punctuation used in this book seemed to cater to millennials and was So. Very. Annoying. While the setup of the book was original, the end of the book had too many improbable tropes strung together to make it satisfying. In the end, it was a memorable but frustrating read.