THIS WAS A FUN EASY READ. I LIKE BARBARA METZGER'S CHARACTERS AND STORIES. SHE WEAVES IN A GREAT DEAL OF HUMOR.
There are valid points for reading an author's work in order; readers get to see the growth of the writer over the years. Unfortunately, I started by reading several of her very witty later novels. This book, although it kept my interest, lacks the sparkle of Ms. Metzger's lively humor.
Jacelyn Trevaine is a seventeen year-old tomboy who is the despair of the neighborhood because she is dedicated to saving all of God's creatures -- even the foxes that the local squire loves to chase with the hounds. She is accompanied in her spirited antics by her dog, Pen, who is the size of a small horse. She lives in a lovely manse with her ailing father (Jacey's mother has died some years earlier).
Squire Bottwick and Lord Trevaine (a scholar) are best friends and the squire goes to some pains to complain about Jacey's hoydenish behavior to her father. When Jacey makes a mistake and kidnaps the wrong man (she thinks he's an old family friend that she hasn't seen in more than 10 years), the consequences are staggering. The next morning, Leigh Claibourne comes to Lord Trevaine's home to ask for her hand in marriage. Claibourne is just back from the war as a hero. I was really enchanted by the words the young earl uses to allay Jacey's father's fears about his daughter. BTW, Claibourne is 32 years of age. I thought that was a huge age difference between the couple. Claibourne is also one of the most notorious rakes of the Ton. He promises to take Jacey for the London Season, complete with chaperons and sponsors.
The story unfolds in a pleasant, leisurely way until the last quarter of the book; then everything is very rushed. The last scenes of the couple were unsatisfying (to me) because they were so hurried, without sufficient explanation of their estranged feelings.
Metzger's later works do not have these problems; they flow beautifully. I found it interesting to see just how this author has grown in skill over the years.