Announcing the Celebrating Georgette Heyer Giveaway Winners!


Without further ado – here are all of the giveaway winners in the Celebrating Georgette Heyer event in August, 2010

Day 01   Aug 01 – Review: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World

Melly S., librarypat, Alexa Adams, Elizabeth, and RegencyRomantic

Day 02   Aug 02 – Review: The Black Moth

Lorrie

Day 02   Aug 02 – Review: Powder and Patch

Katherine

Day 03   Aug 04 – Review: These Old Shades

Sandra J.

Day 03   Aug 04 – Review: The Masqueraders

Nancy

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: Devil’s Cub

Lady T.

Day 04   Aug 06 – Review: The Convenient Marriage (Naxos AudioBooks)

Jennrenee, Meredith, and Felicia J.

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: Regency Buck

JaneGS

Day 05   Aug 08 – Review: The Talisman Ring

Julee Johnson

Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: An Infamous Army

Karen

Day 06   Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride

Audra

Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian

Dawn

Day 07   Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter

Cathy Allen

Day 08    Aug 13 – Review: The Reluctant Widow

Becky

Day 08   Aug 13 – Review: The Foundling

Ruth

Day 09    Aug 15 – Review: Arabella

ncgraham

Day 09   Aug 15 – Review: The Grand Sophy

Laura’s Reviews

Day 10   Aug 16 – Review: Friday’s Child

Bloggin BB

Day 11    Aug 18 – Review: The Quiet Gentleman

LizM

Day 11   Aug 18 – Review: Cotillion

Meredith Austenesque Reviews

Day 12   Aug 20 – Review: The Toll-Gate

Trish B.

Day 12   Aug 20 – Review: Bath Tangle

Chelsea B.

Day 13   Aug 22 – Review: Sprig Muslin

Vidya

Day 13   Aug 22 – Review: April Lady

Theresa N.

Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Sylvester

motheretc

Day 14   Aug 23 – Review: Venetia

Tina

Day 15    Aug 25 – Review: The Unknown Ajax

Jayne

Day 15   Aug 25 – Review: A Civil Contract

Kristen Skold

Day 16    Aug 27 – Review: The Nonesuch

Melanie

Day 16   Aug 27 – Review: False Colours

Regency Romantic

Day 17    Aug 29 – Review: Frederica

QN PoohBear

Day 17   Aug 29 – Review: Black Sheep

AprilFool

Day 18    Aug 30 – Review: Cousin Kate

Rhonda

Day 18   Aug 30 – Review: Charity Girl

wisewoman

Day 19   Aug 31 – Review: Lady of Quality

Fatima

Grand Prize winner of 34 Heyer novels is Linda B.

Congratulations to all the winners. If you could kindly email me at austenprose at verizon dot net with your full name, address and which book you won by midnight Pacific time, September 14, 2010 I would be most grateful. Please leave a comment acknowledging your win. Because of the number of prizes I will not be able to chase down the winners, so if you do not respond by the deadline, I will draw additional names again on September 15, 2010. Shipment of books to the continental US and Canada only. Digital down load on The Convenient Marriage internationally.

Many thanks to all of the bloggers who contributed reviews, and for everyone who participated. It was great fun. Enjoy the books!

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ event wrap-up and poll

This marks the final post of the ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer‘ event here at Austenprose. It has been a wonderful month of 34 book reviews of her romance novels, guest blogs, interviews and all out Heyer madness. I hope it chased away that fit of the blue-devils.

A big thank you to each of the guest reviewers. Well done. I have learned so much and enjoyed your insights. A big round of applause for Vic of Jane Austen’s World for her wonderful interview, author Helen Simonson for sharing her life-passion for Heyer, the ladies at Teach Me Tonight for their blog on Heyer Heroes and an extra shout out to Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks for her wonderful interview and their donation of the majority of the novels in the giveaways.

Remember, you have until September 6th, 2010 to get your last comments in to qualify for the giveaways and then the winners will be announced on Tuesday September 7th, 2010. Good luck to all. Whoever wins the grand prize of 34 novels is one lucky sod.

Now, one last challenge. Please vote for your top ten favorite Heyer romance novels. I know it’s a tough job to narrow it down, but it is a great way to see who is a diamond of the first water.

It’s been such fun gang. You all were a wonderful partyers and I hope you will come back and search through the reviews before you choose your next Heyer to read.

‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ Event Grand Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of all 34 Georgette Heyer Regency romance novels being reviewed here during the event  (YES! THAT’S RIGHT! 34 NOVELS) by leaving a comment during the event in any post during the month of August stating what intrigues you about reading a Heyer novel or who your favorite hero or heroine is by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. The grand prize winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Finis

Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

Heyer’s Heroes: Immutable Romance Archetypes

As the month-long Celebrating Georgette Heyer event draws to a close, we can look back through the thirty-four reviews of Heyer’s romance novels and see a common thread through each and every one. Her heroes are epitomes, nonpareils, and nonesuches. In the Regency romance genre, they are a delight to read and an archetype for a new generation of writers. Each is unique but vaguely similar. Why are they so intriguing? So compelling? So swoon-worthy?

Please welcome Heyer scholars Dr. Laura Vivanco and Sarah S. G. Frantz from the Teach Me Tonight blog as they touch upon Heyer’s genius in creating her heroes, paragons of romance perfection.

Georgette Heyer put her heroes into two basic categories: the Mark I hero, who is “The brusque, savage sort with a foul temper” and the Mark II hero, who is “Suave, well-dressed, rich, and a famous whip” (Aiken-Hodge 49).1 The main distinguishing feature is presumably their tempers, since the “brusque, savage sort with a foul temper” may also be “well-dressed, rich, and a famous whip.” Lord Worth, in Regency Buck, is a case in point:

He was the epitome of a man of fashion. His beaver hat was set over black locks carefully brushed into a semblance of disorder; his cravat of starched muslin supported his chin in a series of beautiful folds; his driving-coat of drab cloth bore no less than fifteen capes, and a double row of silver buttons. Miss Taverner had to own him a very handsome creature, but found no difficulty in detesting the whole cast of his countenance. He had a look of self-consequence; his eyes, ironically surveying her from under weary lids, were the hardest she had ever seen, and betrayed no emotion but boredom. His nose was too straight for her taste. His mouth was very well-formed, firm but thin-lipped. She thought it sneered. (15)2

Another criterion by which to classify Heyer’s heroes has been provided by Kerstin Frank: how “cold” or “hot” they are emotionally. For her part, Susanne Hagemann suggests that Heyer heroes vary depending on their place of residence: “A considerable number of Heyer’s works are based on an opposition between ‘London’ and ‘non-London.’ ‘London’ and masculinity are in many cases closely linked through the person of the hero, who tends to be a prominent member of high society” (482), whereas “The protagonist of […] The Foundling is described as slightly built, delicate, pale, quiet, and diffident” (481). He is “the Most Noble Adolphus Gillespie Vernon Ware, Duke of Sale and Marquis of Ormesby; Earl of Sale; Baron Ware of Thame; Baron Ware of Stoven; and Baron Ware of Rufford” (Heyer, The Foundling 2) and he perhaps requires one to add at least one more category to Heyer’s own classification scheme, since he, like the heroes of Charity Girl, Cotillion, and Friday’s Child is neither “suave” nor “brusque.” In addition, one might have to create a small category for Heyer’s military heroes who are neither “suave” nor “brusque” but instead have a penchant for behaving in unexpectedly unconventional ways, and which would contain the heroes of Beauvallet, The Spanish Bride, The Toll Gate, and The Unknown Ajax.

Heyer’s novels and her heroes have been so influential in shaping the modern romance genre that the heroes created by modern romance authors either fit or struggle against the molds that Heyer perfected. So the supercilious man-about-town (Worth from Regency Buck), the wild child (Vidal from Devil’s Cub), the villainous hero (Avon from These Old Shades) may all seem like immutable romance archetypes today, but they are that way because Heyer established types that appealed to the romance-reading audience to such an extent that they have been copied and revised and expanded upon in Regency and historical romances for almost a century.

Many thanks to Dr. Vivanco and Ms. Frantz for enlightening us on what makes a Heyer hero, and why they are so compelling. We all have our favorites, *cough* Lord Jasper Damerel, and I challenge anyone to dethrone him. What is your favorite Heyer hero type, Mark I or Mark II? What do you like and dislike about each of the archetypes? Of the heroes that are flawed (in your eyes) how would you improve them? And, why or how does your favorite succeed?

Dr. Laura Vivanco can generally be found blogging about romance at Teach Me Tonight. Last year she presented a paper to the first academic conference on Heyer and her most recently published essay, co-written with Kyra Kramer, can be found online in the Journal of Popular Romance Studies. It explores the relationships between romance heroes and heroines and contains numerous quotations from a range of Heyer’s novels.

Sarah S. G. Frantz is the President of the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance and a professor of literature at Fayetteville State University, NC. She is the co-editor of Women Writing Men: Female Novelists and Their Male Characters, 1750-2000 (Lexington, 2009) and the forthcoming New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction. She blogs at Dear Author and at Teach Me Tonight. She is currently writing about her life-long obsession, Alpha Male: Power and Masculinity in American Popular Romance Fiction.

Footnotes:

1. Germaine Greer describes Worth as “a fine example of a stereotype which most heroes of romantic fiction resemble more or less” (175).

2. Jane Aiken Hodge, in her 1984 biography of Heyer, adds that If Georgette Heyer had two kinds of heroes, Mark I and Mark II, this is equally true of her heroines. The Mark I heroine is a tall young woman with a great deal of character and somewhat mannish habits who tends to dominate the plots of the books she appears in; the Mark II one is a quiet girl, bullied by her family, partly because she cannot bear scenes. When a Mark I heroine meets a Mark I hero, as in Faro’s Daughter, there will be fireworks. But Charles, in The Grand Sophy, is a Mark 1 who thinks he is a Mark II. It takes Sophy’s outrageous behaviour to bring out the Mark I in him and achieve the happy ending. (79)

  • Aiken Hodge, Jane. The Private World of Georgette Heyer. 1984. London: Arrow, 2006.
  • Greer, Germaine. The Female Eunuch. 1970. London: Paladin, 1972.
  • Hagemann, Susanne. “Gendering Places: Georgette Heyer’s Cultural Topography,” in Georgette Heyer: A Critical Retrospective. Ed. Mary Fahnestock-Thomas. Saraland, AL: PrinnyWorld, 2001. 480-492.
  • Heyer, Georgette. Regency Buck. 1958. London: Pan, 1968.
  • Heyer, Georgette. The Foundling. 1948. London: The Book Club, 1949.

A new biography of Heyer, written by Jennifer Kloester, is due to be published by Random House UK in October 2011.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 19 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win the grand prize of all thirty-four copies (yes, 34) of the Georgette Heyer novels being reviewed this month during the ‘Celebrating Georgette Heyer’ event by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Georgette Heyer or who your favorite hero and why by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 19   Aug 31 – Event wrap-up

Day 20   Sept 07 – Giveaway winners announced

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Celebrating Georgette Heyer   •   August 1st – 31st, 2010

Lady of Quality, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Elizabeth Hanbury: 

Lady of Quality was Georgette Heyer’s last book before her death in July 1974.  She suffered chronic ill-health in her later years and fractured her leg in a fall in January 1972.  Despite this, she began work on another book and by April had sent the outline to her agent.  Lady of Quality was published in October – an amazing achievement and a tribute to Georgette Heyer’s talent and dedication to her craft.

The heroine is Annis Wychwood and the title sums her up nicely.  Annis is twenty-nine and unmarried (an old maid in Regency terms), but she’s no dowdy spinster.  She’s intelligent, rich, beautiful, elegant and charming, with a sense of humour and an independent spirit.  She lives in Bath with an impoverished cousin, Miss Maria Farlow, as her chaperone.

The book opens with Annis traveling home with Miss Farlow after a visit to her brother and his family.  In spite of her comfortable lifestyle and independence, Annis is bored.  Her future holds no promise of excitement and the well-meaning but prosy Maria only adds to her gloom.  Unsurprisingly, then, when Annis encounters a young couple arguing beside an overturned gig, her curiosity is aroused.  She alights from her carriage to investigate and discovers orphan and heiress Lucilla Carleton is running away from home in the company of her childhood friend Ninian Elmore.  Ninian’s parents and Lucilla’s aunt have been urging them to marry, but it’s a match that neither wants.

Much to the jealous Miss Farlow’s dismay, Annis invites Lucilla to stay until her affairs can be sorted.  Annis enjoys introducing her protégé to Bath society and things go smoothly until Lucilla’s uncle and guardian arrive.  Rakish Oliver Carleton is the rudest man Annis has ever met and sparks fly from their first meeting.  He’s blunt, sardonic and unheeding of society’s rules,  but he’s also honest about his flaws, makes her laugh and is never, ever boring … Continue reading

Charity Girl, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Dana Huff: 

Georgette Heyer’s novel Charity Girl, originally published in 1970, is the story of Ashley Carrington, Viscount Desford’s entanglement with Charity “Cherry” Steane. Desford’s father wishes Desford, who is approaching thirty, had married family friend Henrietta Silverdale, known affectionately as Hetta, but Desford and Hetta insist, rather too much, that they were not in love. At a party where the Lady Bugle schemes to help her daughter catch the eligible Desford, Desford spots Cherry watching the party from upstairs. He learns through conversation that Cherry is a virtual Cinderella in the Bugle household. The next day he sees her walking toward London with a suitcase, determined to run away from her Aunt Bugle. When Desford cannot persuade her to return to her aunt, he takes her to London to find her grandfather, the notoriously nasty Lord Nettlecombe, only to learn Nettlecombe is not in London. Desperate to help Cherry, Desford takes her to his friend Hetta, where the Silverdales take care of Cherry while Desford searches for Lord Nettlecombe. Tongues start wagging—why is Desford so interested in helping the girl? Can it be that he has fallen in love with a charity girl? Continue reading

Cousin Kate, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Chris:

Kate Malvern just lost her job as governess and is staying with her old nurse Sarah until she gets a new situation. Sarah doesn’t like the idea of her Kate, whose father was a gentleman despite being a soldier and a gambler, hiring herself out to anyone who asks. Kate lived under all kinds of circumstances all over Europe so a little hard work doesn’t bother her. Still, Sarah can’t let it go so with the help of her crusty father-in-law, Mr. Nidd, she writes to the only relative Kate is aware of, Lady Broome of Staplewood.

At first, it looks like Lady Broome, or Aunt Minerva, is an answer to Kate’s prayers, offering her a place to stay for the summer. Kate starts to feel uneasy when Aunt Minerva gives her lavish gifts. There must be a catch. Lady Broome doesn’t seem like someone willing to give something for nothing. When she offers Kate a way to pay back her generosity, involving her handsome but unstable son, Torquil, Kate knows she has to get out of Dodge. Can she enlist the help of her other cousin Philip who thinks she’s a gold digger? Or rely on her own wits to disentangle herself from Staplewood?

Every Georgette Heyer novel I read becomes my new favourite and Cousin Kate is no exception. I loved Kate right from the beginning. She’s a practical girl with a sensible head on her shoulders. Plus, she’s sassy. She can go toe to toe with Lady Broome and her machinations. She also manages to charm just about everyone in the Staplewood household. Lord Broome treats her like a daughter and Torquil is calmer in her presence. Lady Broome is sufficiently nasty without becoming cartoonish. The dialogue between Philip and Kate is the best I’ve read from Heyer yet. Their back and forth is a lot like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Philip never really gets the better of her. Continue reading

Black Sheep, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Katherine of November’s Autumn

Twenty-eight-year-old Abigail Wendover arrives home in Bath after having helped one of her sisters. The poor dear; all was an uproar at her home; all three children had the measles, the nurse fell down the back-stairs and broke her leg, and she’s due to have her fourth child at any moment! After order is restored by Abby’s level-headed nursing and reassurances she treats herself to a visit to London. She shops and enjoys herself until her lecturing brother descends upon her with the news that her niece, Fanny is being courted by a ‘gamester and gazetted fortune hunter,’ Mr. Stacy Caverleigh.

Abby lives with her sister Selina, her senior by sixteen years, and the two of them are doting old maid aunts who’ve had the care of Fanny since she was two-years-old. Selina is ready to believe the best of everybody but perhaps no the most perceptive of creatures, and a bit of a hypochondriac,

“The melancholy truth, my love, is that single females of her age are almost compelled to adpot dangerous diseases, if they wish to be the objects of interest.”

Stacy Caverleigh has done his best to charm her and his decided air of fashion puts him in her good graces. Fanny who will make her debut in London within a few months is a precocious young lady who knows her own mind but still has romantical school-girl notions, which makes her ripe for all kinds of outrageous folly. Abby hopes for an opportunity to speak with Mr. Caverleigh without Fanny’s knowledge and the perfect opportunity happens when while writing a note to acquaintances that are arriving in Bath at fashionable York House she hears “Carry Mr. Caverleigh’s portmanteaux up to No. 12.” She is surprised when she looks up and sees a gentleman older than she and in clothing too loose-fitting to be considered even remotely fashionable. She introduces herself to him in a humorous scene of cross-purposes and mistaken identities. The Mr. Caverleigh to whom she is speaking is no other than the black sheep of that family, Miles, who was not only expelled from Eton but had done such extravagant follies he was packed off to India. Continue reading

Frederica, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Nicole Bonia of Linus’s Blanket

Lord Alverstoke is a stylish and wealthy bachelor – bored with his sisters, their families, and their perpetual ploys to get him to fund their already lavish lifestyles.  Cynical to the core, he is skeptical when he meets Frederica, the charming head of the orphaned Merrivale clan. Frederica has brought her family to London to ask the assistance of relatives of her late father in launching her beautiful sister, Charis, into society with the hopes of finding her a husband.  The right match will make all the difference in the family fortunes, and save Frederica and her family from genteel poverty.  Needless to say Alverstoke’s sisters are less than pleased with the appearance of their distant relatives and are proprietary about not only Alverstoke’s time and attention, which is newly directed at the young family, but also of his money.

This is by far my favorite of Georgette Heyer novels.  While so many of them have been enjoyable to me, here she strikes just the right balance with her charming and engaging plot and characters.  I love Alverstoke’s dry wit and interaction with his family, and it was fun to see him question the way he has been living his life as he becomes more involved in the always interesting antics of the Merrivales.  I have to say that I shared his impatience with Charis – beautiful and well-mannered though she might be; the girl was a bit of a dim bulb.  Frederica and Alverstoke are wonderful together and I love that she is such a determined, smart and capable heroine. Continue reading

False Colours, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Georgette Heyer had the fortunate knack of selecting catchy titles for her novels that were a perfect match to what would unfold inside: The Convenient Marriage, The Unknown Ajax, Bath Tangle, Devil’s Cub, Sprig Muslin, The Nonesuch, and on and on. Each title is short, evocative and intriguing. False Colours is a perfect example. Anyone with a modicum of military knowledge will recognize the term ‘flying false colors’ or flying a flag of a country other than one’s own to deceive the enemy into believing that a ship or fort or field banner is of a friend or allies until they are trapped. That is exactly what transpires in Heyer’s Regency-era novel False Colours. The Honorable Christopher “Kit” Fancot is pressed into operating under a false flag by impersonating his identical twin brother Evelyn, Lord Denville, who has inconveniently disappeared at a critical moment in the Fancot family’s lives.

Two years after the close of the Napoleonic Wars, Kit returns to England from diplomatic service in Vienna to meet his widowed mother Lady Denville distraught over the disappearance of his older brother Evelyn on the eve of an important introduction to his future bride and her family. Because of his mother’s mounting debts, Evelyn must make a quick alliance so he will have access to his family trust. Their future depends upon Evelyn marrying the Honorable Miss Cressida Stavely, an heiress whose formidable grandmother the Dowager Lady Stavely must approve the marriage or the betrothal is off. Lady Denville begs Kit to impersonate his brother for just one evening to win time to locate his wayward brother. He agrees and the masquerade begins. Continue reading

A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Elaine Simpson-Long of Random Jottings

I was 15 when I first read A Civil Contract and I remember being slightly disappointed at the lack of a dashing alpha male hero with matching heroine, but now that I am older and wiser, I find this Georgette Heyer to be a deeply and quietly satisfying book.  It is the story of a marriage of convenience in which Adam Deveril will marry a rich heiress, save his family from ruin and in so doing, discover a satisfaction and happiness in his married life which he did not expect to find.

Adam is home from the Peninsular Wars and in love with the beautiful Julia Oversely, but when he learns of the state of his family’s finances he withdraws his suit.  It is Julia’s father, honouring Adam’s action, who suggests an arranged marriage.  He knows Jonathan Chawleigh, a hugely wealthy man in the city, who is eager to ally his daughter with a member of the ton and is willing to pay handsomely to gain a position in society for his daughter.  Initially revolted and repulsed by the scheme, Adam realises he has no choice but to agree in order to save Fontley and provide for his family.

Jenny has always loved Adam, as a friend of Julia she had accepted her position as the satellite in Julia’s starry wake, and knows that Adam is unaware of her existence and does not love her.  She also knows that his family dislike the match and deem her an unworthy wife for a Deveril, but she makes her position clear to Adam’s sister, Lydia: “You love him don’t you? This isn’t what you wished.  I only want to tell you that he’ll be comfortable. I’ll see to that. You don’t think it signifies but it does. Men like to be comfortable. Well he will be – that’s all” Continue reading

The Unknown Ajax, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Brooke of The Bluestocking Guide

The Unknown Ajax begins with Lord Darracott reaming out his daughter-in-law over dinner for her prattle.  Then the point of view switches briefly to the new servant Charles from whose perspective we learn that Lord Darracott is an extremely unpleasant man.  What makes him more unpleasant is that his oldest son Granville is dead.  Rather than his heir being Matthew Darracott, Lord Darracott must acknowledge Hugo who is Granville’s son with the daughter of a weaver.

Lord Darracott and the rest of the family expect Hugo to be a savage practically.  So Hugo decides to oblige the family.  The reader notices Hugo goes from speaking proper English to speaking some form of cockney.  As the story progresses we observe Hugo learning more and more about his new family.  Not all of it is pleasant.  Of course, there is the patriarch who is distinctly unpleasant.  Then there are Hugo’s cousins some of which are OK, others of which are ridiculous.  All of cousins have suffered from their grandfather’s treatment.  Then there is the house itself which has been allowed to fall apart around them.

This was the first Regency romance that I’ve ever read by Heyer.  I liked the last part of the book.  The first part of the book was a little bit slow.  The conversations were a little hard to follow because there were so many idioms used.  Certain of the cockney accents were impossible to understand.  I was only able to guess as what was being said based upon the reaction of Hugo.  I think if I heard someone speaking that way, I’d probably be able to understand it. Continue reading

Venetia, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

One of Georgette Heyer’s most beloved novels, Venetia is set in the countryside of the North Riding of Yorkshire three years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Its eponymous heroine Venetia Lanyon is not your conventional Heyer Regency Miss. Unmarried at age twenty-five she has never been in love, is close to being on the shelf, and has resigned herself to the narrow fate of spinsterhood.

Raised by her reclusive father since her mother’s death fifteen years prior, Venetia has seen little of life beyond the family estate of Undershaw Manor or an occasional country dance at Harrogate. Since her father’s death shortly after the Battle of Waterloo she has been overseeing the household of her younger brothers: twenty-two-year-old Sir Conway, a soldier overseas with the Army of Occupation in Cambray, France, and sixteen-year-old Aubrey, a brilliant scholar studying for Cambridge who abhors his physical limitations from a pronounced and ugly limp. Also within her small sphere are two improbable suitors who would like to win her hand: Edward Yardley, a dull, pompous, egoist who thinks NO is a YES, and Oswald Denny, a bumbling teenage wanna-be rake who idolizes Lord Byron the mad, bad and dangerous to know poet. Life as a maiden aunt in her brother’s household seems a far preferable fate until a chance encounter with an estranged neighbor, the “Wicked Baron” of Elliston Priory, leaves a surprisingly favorable impression.

Others tell her the Baron, Lord Jasper Damerel is scoundrel, a rake, and a libertine. Not at all a suitable association for any young lady who does not want her reputation ruined. Their first encounter, while she walks alone near his estate, is one of Heyer’s most famous scenes. (I will not reveal spoilers – but it is very praiseworthy.) Damerel is as brazen and unprincipled as his reputation precedes him, but, instead of swooning or running from his advances Venetia firmly holds her ground and pelts him with literary retorts, challenging his intelligence and temporarily belaying his dishonorable intentions. Their verbal sparring snaps and sparkles like dry kindling to a hungry fire confirming Heyer’s brilliance with characterization and dialogue. Venetia does not hesitate to say what she thinks and that makes him laugh, a refreshing change for this world-weary social outcast. Tall, dark and disreputable, everything about rakish Damerel tells her to check herself, but Venetia does the exact opposite, she befriends him. Continue reading