Is it odd that I found the best relationship in this book to be between Mr. Beaumaris and his dog Ulysses? Until he met the dog, Mr. Beaumaris seemed to me to be your run-of-the-mill Heyer protagonist, nothing particular to set him apart from the lot of them. In fact, Heyer might've even failed to turn him up to scratch, had it not been for his almost-monologues to the scruffy and shameless little mutt. I loved how Ulysses confounded him and burrowed his way into Beaumaris's reluctant and scathing affections. The image of him driving around with the ugly little dog next to him was hilarious to me.
It's a shame that their relationship was the best part of the book, because the rest of it had so much potential. I liked that Arabella was putting him off and only treated him as a friend. The lie about her wealth also had great promise, but she was never really put on the spot about it. Arabella herself never really seemed like a solid character. Her impetuous nature sat at odds with the rest of her personality, and there's really only so far you can go with naivete. I honestly can't see how she and Mr. Beaumaris will deal past the last page of this book. Bertram's side plot was also fairly tiresome, and he wasn't nearly endearing enough to make me feel truly sympathetic for his plights.
In short, I was rather disappointed with this book and wouldn't recommend it to first-time Heyer readers. Still, despite the slow beginning and the unimpressive end where Mr. Beaumaris saves the day in a single fell swoop whilst our heroine does nothing but wring her hands, Arabella
is well written and an interesting character study.
And also has a man and his very charming dog.