Percy, Viscount Hunterdon, is left a large legacy in a will but there are conditions attached which include ‘bringing out' two young girls into society and finding them husbands. Viscount Hunterdon is a carefree man about town, enjoying his gaming and drinking, without any real responsibility or plans to marry in the near future. Then he receives a legacy from a relative which has conditions attached. He can choose not to take the legacy, but if he does it will go to his nasty cousin who he dislikes intensely.
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The viscount decides to accept, and travels to the country estate, to find a badly mismanaged state of affairs with tenants in poverty and squalor, and a pair of teenage girls that are in no way appealing or educated in the ways of society. He begins to deal with the tenants himself, repairing their property and making their rents more reasonable than his greedy predecessor had done, and for the girls he employs a governess, Jean.
The girls, Clarissa and Amanda, prove to be really nasty pieces of work, trying to get rid of Jean in a range of ways including nearly drowning her in a pond. As the viscount and Jean work together to try and reform them, they become closer; he feels the need to protect her as she insists on seeing the best in the girls even as they repeatedly trick and scare her.
Then Jean and the Viscount discover that Amanda and Clarissa are helping smugglers and the viscount calls in the army to trap them, while locking the girls in so that they are not implicated and imprisoned causing a scandal. One of the smugglers gets away and holds Jean at gunpoint, the viscount shoots him and rescues her, and they live happily ever after, with the girls sent to a very strict school for ‘difficult' young ladies.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked Jeans naive but sweet attitude towards the nasty girls, her belief that they had some good in them was refreshing
Best scene in story:
I loved the scene at the masked ball where the girls thought that Jean was one of many dressed as Queen Elizabeth and drugged them all
Opinion about the main character:
Jean was a little wet in character, but on the whole likeable, and she showed courage at the end with the smugglers