Robert St. Giles is intent on marrying the Duke of Villiers. Why? I'm not quite sure. He's rude, quite possibly gay, and has hardly noticed her. But he's the most sought after catch in England and Roberta is tired of living with her father in the country, and tired of being a laughingstock thanks to her father's horrendous poetry and scandalous liasons with showgirls.
Roberta goes to London and shows up uninvited on a distant counsin's doorstep, desperate for entré into the Duke of Villiers' social sphere. Luckily her cousin Jemma is just eccentric enough to take her on.
After that, there are sexual escapades, confusing social politics of the time and chess, chess and more chess. This novel is 400 pages and I hardly remember a thing except that those people were obsessed with their chess.