There’s Got to be Heyer Love! (part 2)
If you’re a Georgette Heyer fan and you missed the first part of this tribute to the great writer, just click on the article link below for December 2014. Last month, I talked about my gradual re-reading of her work and in particular, six of her novels, Venetia, Devil’s Cub, The Unknown Ajax, Frederica, Sylvester and The Grand Sophy.
This month I’m going to discuss the next six I read for reviews over on the Romance Dish site over the last five years. All of these books are definitely worth picking up – a couple are absolutely fantastic.
First up, I’ll talk about one that’s definitely absolutely fantastic. I can vaguely remember Black Sheep (1966) from my earlier readings. I must have been asleep when I picked it up then, because this time round, it’s emerged as one of my favorites. The dialogue will make you laugh out loud and the love story is deeply heartfelt despite all the shenanigans. Abigail Wendover is past first youth and convinced she’ll be a spinster forever – and what a pleasant life it is, with her own fortune and an independent life in Bath. But her orderly routine turns upside down when rakish Miles Calverleigh, the Black Sheep of the title, enters her world. I love how Miles and Abigail get each other when nobody else in the whole world does – lovely.
Lady of Quality (1972) was Heyer’s last historical romance and it features another independent woman in her late 20s, Annis Wychwood, who also lives in Bath. Just as in Black Sheep, Annis gets involved in the hijinks surrounding an ingénue and her beau, and in the process falls in love with “the rudest man in England,” rich Oliver Carleton. There’s some lovely dialogue in this one too. I must say I enjoy it when Heyer writes these more mature heroines – perhaps because I’m a more mature (ahem!) heroine myself! I like the way she makes love sneak up on these women who have decided to live a life unhampered by a husband.
Bath Tangle (1955), for me, took a little while to get going and while the heroine Serena Carlow is in the vein of both Annis Wychwood from Lady of Quality and Abigail Wendover from Black Sheep, she’s not quite as likable. When Lady Serena’s father dies, he leaves her affairs in the hands of the Marquis of Rotherham, the man Serena rejected when she was the toast of the ton. Serena, Rotherham and a host of other memorable characters find their romantic fates tangled together – and for a while, you wonder if it can all work out happily. But it does. The last 100 pages of so of this one are great as Heyer creates magic with a complicated plot and sparkling comedy.
Arabella (1949) is another one that starts quite slowly – this time with an ingénue heroine who never descends into stupidity. But once Mr. Robert Beaumaris, rich, handsome, and arbiter of fashion, comes on the scene, the book takes off like a rocket. Another lovely romance with a really sweet ending.
Cotillion (1953) features another very young heroine who is running away from the marriage her guardian wants for her. One of the lovely surprises in this one is that the Heyer-style alpha male, Jack Westruther, doesn’t get the girl, heiress Kitty Charing. Instead, sweet, rather dim, but surprisingly resourceful Freddy Standen does. Freddy will steal your heart – he’s so good-natured and patient and kind and modest. It’s wonderful watching him discover that he can step up as a hero when he needs to.
My last Heyer from this batch is Faro’s Daughter (1941) which, like Black Sheep, wasn’t on my list of faves when I started this quest, but is definitely there now. Penniless Deborah Grantham falls low in society’s eyes when she joins her aunt in running a gambling house. Wealthy Max Ravenscar, a confirmed bachelor, starts causing trouble for Deb when his brainless nephew claims that he wants to marry her. Deb and Max are just made for each other – sharp tongued and clever and hiding their better nature under a sophisticated shell. And there’s a lovely kidnapping! This one would be a great introduction for someone who’s never read Heyer before – it just sparkles.
So there you have it, the 12 Georgette Heyers I’ve read over recent years. My next port of call, I think, will be The Toll-Gate (1954).