Roni is looking for a historical with a heroine locked in a room, a churlish uncle, and a vengeful hero who of course uses financial ruin and marriage to take revenge upon his nemeses.
I read a lot of romances about nice heroines. They're kind, selfless, and almost unlikable. I probably am trying to pretend I would ever be that nice nice nice myself. There's that fine tradition of older, British romances of the older-doctor-or-professor-who-sweeps-the-selflessly-downtrodden-surgical-Theatre-Sister-away-from-cruel-relatives-and-impecunious-circumstances-like-beans-and-toast-for-dinner-six-times-a-week type, but this is more the Historical-American-socialite-who-insists-on-attending-the-birthday-party-of-the-local-nouveau-riche-upstart type (well, it could be a type).
The book can't be more than 15 years old, I think, and seems like late nineteenth century. The heroine's uncle stops her from her super-kind and socially ruinous intention of attending the party, and locks her in her room. I think he beats her, too. However, while she's recovering locked up in her home, the dark, handsome, scary older brother of the would-be upstart sets about the financial ruin of all those people who didn't attend his lovely little sister's party, so all if New York, apparently (or was it Boston?).
The abusive and murderous uncle (how DID her parents really die?) throws her on the doorstep of his nemesis, who churlishly marries her because she's beautiful, he wants the cache of marrying up, and he's secretly kind (fact: he loves his sister). Things muddle along and he starts to like her (a sexy scene in the new-fangled shower doesn't hurt … too much), but her secretive visits to an estate in the countryside make him doubt her.
She's really visiting her sister who has been committed to an asylum because the uncle accused her of killing the girls' parents. I think the sister escapes and becomes the heroine of the sequel. Anyways, I do hope you can help me out with this one.
I think I just heard Redheadedgirl's reading antennae send the red alert. Do you recognize this book? (Am I alone in wanting to read it?)