This is a fairly typical Heyer – an over-dominant and worldly male and a gooseish and very silly ingenue female, with a wide difference in ages. Fortunately, these two spend some time betrothed but they don’t in the end marry, because the real heroine of the book is not at all gooseish or silly, and is just as over-dominant a the male. For once, Heyer makes the hero and heroine a good, if tempestuous, match for each other.
The book has a nice premise. When the Earl of Spenborough dies, he leaves behind a very young widow, and an unmarried daughter several years older than the widow. Fanny, the widow, is sweet, charming, timid, uncomfortable in high society and distressed by the slightest breach in propriety. Serena, the daughter, is very much her father’s daughter – wild, wilful, as hard a rider to hounds as any man, and determined to have her own way in everything. And when she discovers that her father has left her fortune and the right of approval of her marriage to the man she once jilted, the Marquis of Rotherham, sparks fly. But when Fanny and Serena move to Bath, and Serena meets up with old flame Hector, and Rotherham randomly betroths himself to gooseish little Emily, the stage is set for the Bath Tangle of the title.
Naturally, matters eventually resolve themselves into happiness for all, but along the way there are some very funny moments, some lovely side characters and a great deal to enjoy. The hero and heroine are not my favourites – Serena is too hoydenish for my liking, and I prefer the Freddy Standen style of hero, rather than these rogueish, sometimes rakish, types. But Fanny, Hector and the delightful, if not very respectable, granny of Emily’s make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Four stars.