The hero of A Civil Contract is Adam Deveril, sixth Viscount Lynton of Fontley Priory, Lincolnshire, one of the Duke of Ellington's captains. When his father, a crony of the Prince Regent, is killed in the hunting-field, Adam returns to England to find his family on the brink of financial disaster and his beautiful home heavily mortgaged and in a shocking state of repair. It is Lord Overlsey, father of Adam's first love, who tactfully introduces him to Mr. Jonathan Chawleight, a notable addition to MIss Heyer's gallery of characters. For Mr. Chawleigh's is a City man of apparently unlimited wealth with no social ambitions for himself, but with his eyes fixed firmly on a suitable (by which he means noble) match for his only daughter, Jenny.
Of the results of the meeting between the bluff financier and the proud young aristocrat, of a love lost and a love found and of Mr. Chawleigh's impact upon a noble family of exceptional sensibility Miss Heyer writes with all her customary skill and wit.
A Civil Contract is social comedy at its happiest.