The one thing I absolutely love about Georgette Heyer books is that you always know what you're going to get when you pick one up: you're going to get an absolutely lovely and completely innocent tale of wooing in the Regency period, complete with gaming debts, cynical young men and naive and trusting women. Will it make you think differently about anything? No, probably not. Will it make you smile for about three hundred pages? Absolutely.
Arabella is a classic Heyer book. Our heroine, Arabella Tallant, is on her way to London for her season. She doesn't have much money but has been taken pity on by her godmother that will sponsor her. On her way to London, however, her carriage breaks down and she seeks shelter from the rain in a nearby house.
This nearby house is of course owned by our male lead, Robert Beaumaris. Mr. Beaumaris is the Nonpareil of the season, setting all the fashion trends and dictating what is in and out in London. He's also worth quite a bit of money. He thinks Arabella is faking the carriage accident to get closer to him. When Arabella hears him confide this to a friend, in outrage, she hints that she's worth a great deal of money herself, to make him feel bad about his assumptions.
Mr. Beaumaris, of course, knows this is a pretense but runs with it, thinking it would be funny to make Miss Tallant the most sought after girl of the Season. And it works. But he finds himself falling for her, too. And Arabella has to start fending off fortune hunters that don't know that she doesn't actually have any money.
Georgette Heyer books are also absolutely lovely because they are romance novels written in the fifties. You know what Georgette Heyer doesn't mess with? All those sex scenes in modern romance novels. Instead of the prerequisite (at least) three sex scenes of a romance novel, Heyer just keeps it light and breezy, a complete courtship with an innocent but passionate young woman and a man impressed by her zeal. It's much more Jane Austen than Nora Roberts. Even her writing style is old fashioned but in a good way, that keeps you involved in the plot.
Arabella was an absolutely lovely read, exactly what I needed at the time. It was short, it was sweet and it was romantic. It didn't change the world but it made for a good read.