If you enjoy regency romance with depth of character and credible scene building, I believe that you will enjoy this novel.
Lord Nicholas Burley’s fortunes were depleted by his deceased father’s gambling and the debt seemed overwhelming. Nick gained the respect of both his creditors and his bankers when in an attempt to pay off the most pressing of the many mortgages held on his property Burley Manor, Nick sold off the treasures and furnishings in the house, his father’s prized horses and carriages, and even his fashionable clothing. He gave up membership of his clubs and only travelled to London on day trips so as not to incur accommodation costs. He turned off nearly all of his staff and for more than five years his stepmother and eight half-sisters did much of the work of the household themselves, including growing their own fruit and vegetables. They closed off much of the house, made their own clothes and bonnets, did the laundry, cleaning and the cooking. Nick asked for and gained the support of his tenants by labouring alongside them to improve the roads and fences and make best use of the available resources.
Nick comes across Miss Isabella Rhetford in an overturned carriage and rescues her to his rundown home and a doctor’s attention is sought. She is to remain off her damaged foot for a minimum of a fortnight, possibly a month. When Nick becomes aware that she is the heiress spoken of only recently amongst his friends he fears that his meagre finances will be severely depleted by the costs of housing her staff and horses, as well as providing the entertainments to which she would be accustomed. Even worse, she wants to bring her entire household staff. Nick goes to London to inform her aunts of her accident and discovers them wanting to come immediately with yet another staff. They assure him that they will rent another house and that they will continue to pay their staff themselves, and that Isabella will pay for her own staff. He offers the ladies the Dower House rent free with the understanding that they would need to clean it first.
From the time that she moves in, Isabella is made to feel one of the family and is impressed by their industry and many talents. The girls offer to teach her their skills, but she is unable to display any aptitude. What she can do however, is accounts and she offers to assist Nick with his and finds many errors and opportunities to increase his income.
Nick discovers that he has a grandmother when she visits unexpectedly, prompted by Isabella who had known the old lady for many years. The grandmother informs him that he has inherited other estates through his mother, which would have come to him sooner if she had known he existed. His fortunes are improved once more thanks to Isabella.
Nick’s stepmother was asked to supervise the come out of Isabella so that her aunts did not have to do so, and in exchange they would renovate the Dower House while they live in it. His eldest sister Emily would come out at the same time. The aunts would get to do what they preferred and his sister could come out which she had not expected to be able to do.
His stepmother informs him that she has been ostracised from her family since her marriage to his father. This information leads him to cut her sister until the sister informs him that that family believed that she had died. Three sisters and her mother come to visit the family at Burley Manor, when the father Earl Thanet comes to the manor to bring them home. The Earl threatens and abuses everyone, until he is escorted from the property being told never to return. This causes him to seek revenge through a series of attacks on Isabella, his daughter and his granddaughters. Nick is caught up working very hard and yet has to protect the women in his life while trying to make his estates viable.
Though Nick is but a Baron, there are marriages beyond the dreams of the girls, a second come out and plans for yet another. The girls are considered to be most properly brought up and are welcomed into society as a positive influence on their peers. Isabella has made it all possible.