Georgette Heyer was visiting the Land of Excessive Exclamation Points when she wrote this one*:
"How dared you read my letter?" she retorted.
"I did not read your letter! I gave it to Mama, and you will scarcely say that she had no right to read it!"
Her soft blue eyes swam with tears; she said in a low voice: "It is all your fault! Mama would never -- I hate you, Charles! I hate you!"
He shrugged, and turned away. Lady Ombersley said feebly: "You should not talk so, Cecilia! You know it is quite improper in you to be receiving letters without my knowledge! I do not know what your Papa would say if he heard of it."
"Papa!" exclaimed Cecilia scornfully. "No! It is Charles who delights in making me unhappy!"
He glanced over his shoulder at her. "It would be useless, I collect, to say that my earnest wish is that you should not be made unhappy!"
She returned no answer, but folded the letter with shaking hands, and bestowed it in her bosom, throwing a defiant look at him as she did so. It was met with one of contempt; Mr. Rivenhall propped his shoulders against the mantelshelf, dug his hands into his breeches' pockets, and waited sardonically for what she might say next.
Into this happy home comes Sophia Stanton-Lacy (aka The Grand Sophy), who has had a very different upbringing than her cousins. Independent, outgoing, resourceful and practical, she has accompanied her widower diplomat father all over the world. This time, though, Sir Horace been ordered to Brazil, and he can't take her with him. So it's to London and the Rivenhalls for Sophy.
She's a bit worried that she'll be bored.
But when she discovers that Cecilia is in love with a head-in-the-clouds (and completely unsuitable) poet and that Charles is engaged to a perfectly awful (hypocritical, prim, gossipy, bossy) cold fish of a woman, she knows that she'll be busy.
Other the existence of Chapter Eleven, or the Mr. Goldhanger Chapter, which was so rife with anti-semitism that I found myself grinding my teeth, and the fact that the edition I read was riddled with typos, I loved it. Miss Wraxton, Charles' fiancee, is especially wonderfully awful, I loved Lady Ombersley (who was constantly swooning) and Sophy's Big Plan at the end is so ridiculous and convoluted that it is not to be missed.
Looking forward to the next one on my pile.
*Not that that diminished my enjoyment one bit, of course. It was just that! much! more! exciting!