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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →