What is he doing in Bath? A question Dr. Marius Hope frequently asks himself. From The Wells he had set out for Guilford: his aim, to ask Elizabeth Conyers` father for her hand in marriage. But swept along by everyone`s wish to visit to the celebrated spa, Hope now finds himself called upon to extricate Richard `Beau` Nash, the renowned Master of Ceremonies, from an unwelcome dilemma. His insatiable gambling habits have led him to resort to a little sleight-of-hand – and it`s about to rebound upon him.
Coming to Nash`s rescue, leaves Hope confronting other issues. Speaking out against the barbaric trafficking of slaves in nearby Bristol, he antagonises the Society of Merchant Venturers, the trade`s biggest investors.
Moreover, the consequences mount for the doctor when he foils a scheme by members of the Society to take control Bath`s affairs. Their wrath leads to reprisals when their true motives are revealed.
As with `The Wells`, the first book in the Hope trilogy, many of the characters, and the incidents depicted in `The Fragrant Æther` are taken from recorded history. This novel offers a more colourful interpretation of eighteenth century happenings in this celebrated corner of Somerset.