This is a Regency romp first published in America in 1987 and now published in Britain. Valerie, the eponymous heroine from a genteel, thrifty family, is invited by her rich, widowed aunt to stay with her. Here she discovers her aunt wants her as a model for the heroine of her latest Gothic novel, which involves Valerie in escapades such as climbing up a trellis to a second floor window with a knife between her teeth, and jumping her horse over a tollbooth, so that she can explain to her aunt what it feels like! At the same time, Valerie, who thinks of herself as a lioness, having more than a Junoesque figure with tawny hair and a liking for the good things of life, meets a man to whom she is attracted, but who seems to be a dependent of Lord St Regis, a situation she disapproves of. And then there is Dr Hill, a close friend of her aunt, and a French cousin who is attracted to her and, it seems, every other woman of his acquaintance.
Written in the first person, this story has a certain exuberance, but contains quite a few anachronisms and Americanisms, and, although it grabbed my interest at first, with its unusually forthright heroine, there were times when I found myself skimming the page rather than reading it.
A slight read which would pass three hours pleasantly, but not a must-have book.