Catch of the Season opens by introducing Allison Munroe, an eighteen-year-old country miss who is about to make her London debut, much to the delight of her widowed mother. Mrs. Munroe has high hopes that Allison will make a good match, perhaps even wed into a title. Her dreams are answered when the Marquis DeGuis comes to call and asks for Allisonís hand. Mrs. Munroe promises it away without consulting Allison. After all, her daughter is too tall, rather tomboyish, and has unconventional tastes in reading material, whereas the marquis is a real catch. Better grab this offer immediately.
Allison isnít relishing the thought of her coming-out ball. The Season seems a bit pointless, and most of the ladies and gentlemen sheís met donít interest her. She longs for the freedom of life in the country and the companionship of her dear friend, Geoffrey Pentercast, a neighbor with whom she is always comfortable. Geoffrey is handsome and devil-may-care, but she wants a sweeping love, and heís a dear friend. When Geoffrey turns up in London and tells Allison he wants to marry her, she resists, insisting that a Season will do her good, that it will force her mother to treat her like an adult.
Geoffrey goes off to try and acquire some polish, Allison carries on with her season, and the marquis prepares to make his intentions known. When the Season ends and the family returns to their country home, the marquis is invited along as a visitor and the whole marriage plan comes to light. Whom will Allison choose?
I thought Geoffrey was great fun. Only 22, he longs for Allison and is determined to do whatever it takes to win her. In a reverse-Cinderella twist, a local curmudgeon provides the avenue for Geoffrey to decide on his future and take the final steps to adulthood.
Allison didnít fare as well. This is essentially a story of an eighteen-year-old who isnít yet a mature adult, and it shows in her wishy-washy attitude toward the Season, the Marquis, and especially Geoffrey. She dislikes the social restrictions of the Season. But if she goes through with it, then Mother will have to take her seriously. She wants a great love and doesnít love the marquis. But heís handsome, rich, and titled, a great catch, so maybe she should marry him. She misses Geoffrey and longs for him. Yet when he does turn up, she canít make up her mind if she really wants him, after all.
Allisonís eventual growth did salvage the story. There are no villains here -- even the motherís actions are comprehensible, and the marquis is a decent man. But in the end, Allison is expected to carry the story, and she just doesnít have enough substance to do it convincingly.
Catch of the Season offers interesting and likable secondary characters and a charming hero. Perhaps it will entertain you more than it did me.