I have read this short book many times. Actually one of Cartland's shorter (and less substantive) novels, it remains my favorite. There is such a sweetness to the heroine Anita, and all the characters are worth meeting.
Our story in short: Anita and her two older sisters have been virtually left on their own. Their mother has traveled to Switzerland due to her illness. We meet her briefly. Sarah, the oldest sister has written to all their relatives, some of whom are "quality." They, of course, are penniless relations even though they are of good birth. Sarah ends up with a Countess for a season, Daphne ends up with her godmother who is also kind to her but Anita ends up with an old maid great aunt with endless "charitable" works. I DO think the sisters seemed very selfish leaving poor Anita to struggle with the worst possible relation!
Before Anita goes on her journey to the great-aunt, she meets Kerne, the Duke of Ollerton, at a gate while he is out riding. It is a momentous meeting as Anita in her fanciful way thinks he looks like the fallen angel Lucifer (and tells the Duke this) and Kerne remarks on some obscure poem that Anita actually knows. He thinks she looks like a tiny angel. They are to meet again and sooner than he thought.
Kerne has asked his mother to set up a house party so he may select a wife. His career requires it! His future duchess must be tall, statuesque, blonde - and on and on.... and his mother invites three eligible women to his home. Both the Duke and Duchess (his mother) meet Anita at the pumps in Harrowgate and later, Kerne thinks of a way to save her from an unsavory marriage to an old man (her great-aunt's "pet" parson as they referred to him.).
Anita ends up at the Ollerton estate with the Duchess. Her charming manner soon makes her popular to the household. She is so open and fresh. Later when joined by Kerne and his guests, even they find her delightful. One guest, Lord Greshem finds her a little too delightful! The events at the house party, from balls to early morning rides to a misunderstanding between Kerne and Anita is wonderfully portrayed. You really are not sure how it will all work out. And does it? Can Anita really say no when the Duke asks her to marry him? And why would she - read this lovely book and you will find out the answer.
Why a five for this book? I judged it against others like it. It does not have an extended storyline or detailed character development of longer Regency novels, but there is something in this one that touches my heart. I think if you are looking for a quick read with mild villainy, you will enjoy this!