Miss Georgiana Halliday, accompanied by her dog, Lump, walks along the Brighton beach while reading a letter from her friend, Marigold, who despairs of being in a “dreadful pucker”. Georgie is not surprised, as her thrice-married friend always seems to be some kind of trouble. When Lump runs off to pursue the seagulls, Georgie gives chase and literally crashes into handsome Lord Garth Warwick. Warwick, believing her to be a light skirt, kisses her soundly, which they both enjoy, until they both recognize the other. For Lord Warwick is married to Georgie’s cousin, Catherine, who has recently disappeared and speculation is that Warwick has done away with her. Georgie is rather thrilled to see him though as she has always been enamored of him; Warwick is beginning to realize that he much prefers Georgie to Catherine.
Georgie is a rather independent young woman, already twenty-six years old, and considered on the shelf, past worrying about marriage. Her aunt lives with her and keeps house for her; her brother, Andrew, is recovering from wounds he received during the Napoleon war. When Georgie returns home from her walk on the beach, Marigold is on her doorstep, begging for help out of her predicament. It seems that Marigold’s many years older husband has died, leaving a famous emerald which Marigold has lost and now her husband’s heir, a nephew living in India named Carlisle Sutton, has arrived and wants the emerald back.
As if all of this isn’t enough, Andrew has made friends with tall, freckled Sarah-Louise Inchquist, who is being pursued by fortune-hunting, poetry-spouting Peregrine Teasdale. But as Sarah-Louise becomes more and more disappointed in Teasdale, she becomes more and more interested in Andrew. Georgie’s head is spinning as she tries to help her friend recover the emerald, take care of brother Andrew, and figure out exactly where she stands with Garth.
Love is all around in this comical Regency romp, but too many characters with too many interests makes this book a little bewildering. The characters are well drawn, but the plot needs tightening to make it flow a little better. Overall, Cupid’s Dart is a pleasant afternoon read.