Diamond in the Rough (American Heiresses)
Poppy Garrison is twenty-two, beautiful, and an heiress. Her grandmother has summoned her from her family’s horse farm to New York City to have a Season. Unfortunately, Poppy is totally unsuited to life among the Four Hundred. For she’s enthusiastic, energetic, generous, goodhearted—and bizarrely accident-prone.
Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has accompanied his cousin who possesses a title and lands, but no money; his cousin is seeking an American heiress who has money but no title. Reginald plans to keep a low profile, serving only to help his cousin choose a properly wealthy bride. But then Reginald meets Poppy and Poppy’s managing grandmother, and before you can say “a diamond of the first water,” the long-suffering, brooding Reginald finds himself talked into the task of instructing Poppy in proper Society etiquette. And things gallop along from there, getting almost totally out of the characters’ control in a most charming fashion. Reginald gradually realizes that he loves Poppy – but he rightly feels she’ll be angered at his keeping it a secret that he’s not only rich, but very well-born indeed.
The novel isn’t without faults. For one thing, it’s rather shaky on English titles (Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, would be “Lord Reginald,” not “Lord Blackburn”). And an over-used phrase “a diamond of the first water” refers to a debutante’s beauty, not her grasp of society etiquette. Still, I give the author points for naming a hero “Reginald”!
Despite its flaws, I very much enjoyed this bon-bon of a book. It’s silly and sweet; a delightful romp through Gilded Age New York. Poppy is an endearing character, and her misadventures in Society reminded me of joyously chaotic 1930s screwball comedies.