That famously infamous power couple from "Pride and Prejudice", Mr. and Mrs. Collins, have grown into middle age and now have two grown daughters, Eliza and Charlotte, both unmarried, and like all Austen maidens, in need of a husband. A visit from Mrs. Collin's aunt, Lady Grandpoint, along with an entanglement between Eliza and the son of the local squire, generates the perfect excuse for a London season for the two girls. With great pleasure, Lady Grandpoint escorts Eliza and Charlotte to her London home. There the Grand Dame hopes that Charlotte's beauty will ensnare a man of fortune, as she looks for ways to quench Eliza's passions and pressure her to accept the advances of a respectable, but boorish, clergyman.
Unbeknownst to the forthright Lady Grandpoint, for her two young companions, London is the place for secrets. The aloof and extraordinarily beautiful Charlotte does attract many admirers, but the coolness of her manners leads one to conclude that her heart is not easily touched. As Eliza watches with a careful eye and bets are placed at the aristocratic mens' clubs, all wonder, "Who will Charlotte choose?" It seems that for everyone there is money at stake.
And Eliza herself is no slouch when it comes to keeping her own counsel. Eliza finds herself reluctantly attracted to the sharp and intelligent Bartholomew Bruton, while she struggles with her loyalty to the boy back home, with whom she is secretly engaged. The secret correspondence between the two, if it became known, would ruin her reputation, and her sister's by association. As if such entanglements are not enough to keep her busy, Eliza must guard the secret of just how she is coming into the extra pin money that is paying for the fashionable gowns she is wearing about town. This last secret alone threatens to destroy not just her sister's and her own reputations, but risks the position and prospects of her father, Bishop Collins.
As the novel progresses, we learn more about the limits of Charlotte's restraint and watch Eliza grow to add sense to her sensibility. This is a clever play upon the sisterly relationships of Elinor and Marianne in Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," along with a bit of Jane and Elizabeth from "Pride and Prejudice." Aston's love for Austen shines through, but she never takes herself too seriously by trying to imitate too closely. Any serious fan of Jane Austen should find this sequel to be pleasurable fun.