Guineveve Holland is a twin whose brother has just become an Earl. She, her brother and her mother are in town prior to the start of the Season so that her brother can make the acquaintance of the ton and her mother can try to arrange a suitable match for her daughter. Her son is the sole focus of Mrs. Holland’s attention and she has abused Guineveve so much the girl quails at the sound of her mother’s voice. As a result, Guin is ridiculously shy, stammering and unable to speak at all in most social situations.
Lord Frederick Hawkesworth, a Baronet in the diplomatic service, observes Guin’s awkwardness and is determined to help her emerge from her shyness. Without spoiling any plot points, others decide to assist, too, and Guin gradually gains confidence. Sir Frederick also discovers that there are depths to Guin that he hadn’t realized at first, including her classical education, and he enjoys the protective feeling she inspires in him. Eventually, he falls in love with her as she realizes that she loves him, too.
The primary failing of Cupid’s Choice is that Frederick and Guin’s feelings for each other aren’t believable; beyond a few meetings and a little desultory conversation, they really don’t know each other. Yes, they are both kind, and yes, he saves her from a few disastrous situations, but beyond that, their romance is flat and their conversation uninspired. In fact, most of the book’s writing is fairly uninspired competent, yes, sometimes interesting, but with no zest, zip or zing.
The book succeeds when Guin is dealing with her mother. Like all children, she has conflicting emotions towards her overdrawn, manipulative mother a woman who was a beauty in her day and is still raging against her own disappointments. Guin hastens to defend her mother when she is being attacked by others, but also fights back as she slowly begins to gain more self-confidence.
Cupid’s Choice is a pleasant, but unmemorable read enlivened by the heroine’s growth into a self-possessed woman. It is best accompanied by a rainy day and several cups of tea.