"Bath Tangle" by Georgette Heyer
The primary characters are not in love and in fact they hate each other and are portrayed not to be suitable for each other. But, destiny has other plans.
Serena is an earl's daughter who dies due to mere chill and is heir-less so the earldom passes to the cousin who is very much loathed by everyone. Now, when the will of the late earl is read, there is a shock in store for Serena because the person whom she hates the most is appointed her guardian. The twist in the tale is that this detestable person, Rotherham, was betrothed to her some 7-8 years prior to the present age but Serena cries off from the wedding because she is not able to stand the Marquis. But, it is evident from the very start that both of them are made for each other how so much they may hate each other. Marquis is the only person who can handle Serena and she is the only person whom the Marquis will listen to beyond his resistance.
Now, Serena has a 'mother-in-law' who is younger than her in age which so happened because of the late earl's second marriage to a mere child. So, Serena has to take up a residence alone and asks her mother-in-law, Fanny, to act as her chaperon. This was a very convenient arrangement for both Serena and Fanny. So, they move to Bath. There, Serena meets her old love, Hector, (she fancied herself in love when she broke her engagement with Rotherham) accidentally and soon, these lovers become engaged. This piece of news is carried by flying rumors to Rotherham and instinctively, a few days later, his own betrothal is announced to a girl, Emily, who was introduced to him by Serena herself.
There is another twist here: Hector realizes that Serena is not at all like the lady he wants to marry and accidentally falls for Fanny without intending to. On the other hand, Serena is very much upset to read about the engagement of Rotherham to Emily. It so happens that Emily comes to live with her grandmother, another amazing character, in Bath and consequently, it is revealed that Emily is afraid of Rotherham and doesn't want to get married to him but she is held under pressure by her mother so she doesn't say anything. But, a fortunate chance presents herself and she tries to run away from Bath with another man (whom she just tries to use and has no feelings for) but Serena comes in an opportune time and prevents the disaster.
Rotherham comes to Bath and the whole tangle (as indicated by the title) is unraveled when Emily confesses that she doesn't want to get married to Rotherham and the engagement is broken. But, Serena is fancying herself still engaged to Hector and is regretting but Rotherham tells her that Hector is in love with Fanny so both the couples are happy.
The novel is full of likeable characters. And, it gives an interesting read.
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