In this romance set in England in the mid 1700s, Sylvain Harwood, nearly 20, considers herself the family disappointment due to her tomboy ways. Terrance Winslow, slightly older, knows his antics bring shame to his family, the latest of which is a dalliance with a married woman. While wandering the forest, Sylvain happens upon Terrance, who has been hurt pursuing an acquaintance who has falsely accused him of murder. As Sylvain believes his innocence and helps him, Terrance remembers her as the mussed girl who was always tending to wounded animals. Sylvain recalls him as her first kiss, brought about by a wager to see if he could kiss every female in the district.
Before Terrance’s health can be restored, Sylvain is packed off to London to be introduced to society. Terrance also makes it to London and begins his search for the true killer, enlisting a Bow Street Runner who was originally sent to apprehend him. Suspense mingles with romance as they work together to try to absolve Terrance of the murder and to resolve their feelings for each other.
Aside from an unrealistically speedy recovery from a broken leg, Barely Proper is totally enjoyable.