Who Wants to Marry a Duke: (Duke Dynasty Book 3), by Sabrina Jeffries—A Review

Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:

Romance, mystery, and a most intriguing hero and heroine are what you’ll find in Who Wants to Marry a Duke. This is the third entry by Sabrina Jeffries in the Duke Dynasty series and can also be read as a standalone.

We first meet young Marlowe Drake, the Duke of Thornstock, at a ball, where his older half-brother Grey—Duke of Greycourt—warns him about the marriage-minded mamas lurking about. Ignoring this wise advice, Thorn quickly finds himself caught in a compromising position with a young lady.

The lady in question is Miss Olivia Norley. She offers to clean a wine stain from Thorn’s waistcoat and afterward, Thorn steals a kiss. They are seen by Olivia’s stepmother, who unbeknownst to Olivia, blackmails Thorn into offering Olivia marriage by threatening to reveal a secret about his father.

The following morning, Thorn proposes to Olivia with barely disguised contempt. He looked “…like a thief being dragged to the gallows,” so she declines. He doesn’t want to marry her, but her refusal stings, nonetheless. He believes Olivia was party to the blackmail and can’t understand why she would then reject him.

Fast forward nine years. Using a false identity, Thorn has become a playwright, and Olivia, a chemist. (No wonder she knew how to remove that stain!) At a ball hosted by his family, Thorn spots Olivia. He intends to have her thrown out, but relents when he learns that his half-brother Grey has asked her to investigate the suspicious death of his father by testing his remains for arsenic.

Thorn asks Olivia to dance and challenges her on her motives for performing the tests. All she really wants is to establish a reputation for herself. Olivia prefers chemicals to people because they act in predictable ways. The two adjourn to the garden to speak privately, and Olivia reveals she wants to publish the results of her tests. Thorn is horrified. Dukes don’t wish to have their scandals aired in public.

Olivia has fought hard over the years to put Thorn out of her mind and is irritated that she still feels an attraction to him. The inevitable happens, and this time Olivia thinks his kisses “…were as combustible as sweet oil of vitriol and nearly as dangerous.” Again, they’re almost caught, but Olivia dashes from their hiding place and pretends she was merely enjoying the heady scents of the garden. Continue reading

Say Yes to the Duke: The Wildes of Lindow Castle (Book 5), by Eloisa James—A Review

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James 2020From the desk of Pamela Mingle:  

The Wildes of Lindow Castle is a Georgian romance series penned by the elegant writer, Eloisa James. Say Yes to the Duke, the fifth entry in the series features Viola Astley, whose mother is married to the Duke of Lindow. By her own reckoning, Viola is “…the opposite of a Wilde…timid, tongue-tied, and fairly useless.”

At her first ball, an apprehensive Viola retreats to a corridor used mainly by servants. She accidentally comes upon a couple having a liaison. When the man realizes he and his lover are no longer alone, he accuses the woman of arranging for a witness so he’ll be forced to marry her. He speaks cruelly, and long after the incident Viola continues to feel “…a wave of horror at the memory of the man’s scathing voice and his brutal strength.” From then on, she’s petrified of social situations and avoids them.

The brute in question turns out to be the Duke of Wynter, Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, the hero of the story. Living mainly in the country, he shuns society and declines to attend parliamentary sessions. Raised in isolation by parents who despised each other, the duke was educated at home. His father was known for challenging nearly every man he came in contact with to a duel. At first, this seems merely quaint, but we later find out that he was abusive to Devin.

When Viola comes of age, her parents insist she have a debut season along with her beautiful and flamboyant stepsister Joan. She’s dreading the ball that will mark her first official appearance in Society. Across town, Devin tells his cousin Otis that he intends to find a bride during the Season. Devin knows of the Wildes, and Otis enlightens him further. Continue reading

‘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. Continue reading

Why we love to read & re-read Georgette Heyer: A birthday tribute

Today is Georgette Heyer’s birthday. I can think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a fellow Heyerite and Regency-era authority, Vic Sanborn of Jane Austen’s World. Vic has graciously agreed to be quizzed on her passion and knowledge of the Queen of Regency Romance, so please welcome her and feel free to ask your own questions as well.

Thank you for inviting me, Laurel Ann. Happy Birthday, Georgette! I can’t think of a better way to spend her special day either.

Some critics write Georgette Heyer off as merely a romance novelist. Others praise her for her historical accuracy, witty dialogue and engaging plots. Looking back on her fifty plus novels, why do you think she is still so popular years after her first publication?

When she was a current bestselling author, Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances stood out from the pack. Her humorous but well-researched writing rose above a sea of earnestly written historical romances. In those days, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Plaidy (Victoria Holt), Mary Stewart, and Mills and Boon (Harlequin) authors reigned supreme. While these best-selling authors were popular, none came close to combining humor, history, and romance in Georgette’s inimitable way. Today, GH’s breezy style doesn’t stand out quite as vividly, because there are many other romance writers (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Andersen, Sandra Hill, Jane Ann Krentz) who publish funny and sassy romances, but back in the dark ages when I went to college, Georgette had the humorous romance field to herself.

One reason that Georgette’s books have survived so well is that the worlds she created for her characters seem authentic. A reader can be confident that her research was accurate and meticulous. She visited museums and the British Library, and filled notebook after notebook with her observations and drawings. In addition, she and her husband lived in Mayfair. In her daily life, Georgette walked in the same streets as her heroes and heroines. GH characters frequently spoke Regency cant, which made their language sound absolutely authentic. Who can forget the rich dialog from A Lady of Quality?: Continue reading

The Foundling, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Claire of The Captive Reader

Originally published in 1948, The Foundling was one of the very few Heyer Regency novels I had not read.  As is always the case when you’re working against a deadline, I had some trouble tracking down a copy (even the library large print edition had multiple holds!) but I found one and settled down for what turned out to be a very energetic and amusing read.

At twenty-four, the Duke of Sale (Gilly) is still being cosseted by his extended family and staff who, having gotten into the habit of caring for the Duke in his invalid youth, have not yet realised that he’s grown into a capable, if frustrated, young man.  When Gilly’s young cousin becomes entangled with the beautiful foundling Belinda and her enterprising guardian, Gilly immediately spies a chance to rebel against his protectors and to test his competence.  Quickly, he becomes entangled in an exhilarating adventure, and, with two rather troublesome dependents in tow, finds that he needs all his wits about him to manage the extraordinary circumstances into which he’s been thrust.

What fun this was!  It is truly an old-style romance, by which I mean an adventure tale with sinister villains, daring kidnappings, a beautiful damsel, and the appropriate comic relief.  Except that Gilly, for all his titles, is hardly the dashing hero such circumstances usually require.  It’s lovely to see how he grows and manages to handle the extraordinary situations on his own, having been cared for by others his entire life, but it is just as nice to know that such success is unlikely to go to his head.  Gilly, the reader is assured, shall remain as kind and stable as ever, only more confident of his own abilities and far more independent. Continue reading

The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Danielle of A Work in Progress

The Corinthian is the perfect summer read, a page-turning romp through Regency England with all the right elements pulled off perfectly.  It’s a light-hearted comedy of manners and very much an adventure story with all sorts of twists and turns and misunderstandings — not surprising since the heroine spends the entire novel dressed as a boy!

I wasn’t sure at first just what a Corinthian was, though it’s easy to infer the meaning over the course of the novel.  The dictionary defines it as:

a man about town, esp. one who lives luxuriously or, sometimes, dissolutely.

In this case, Sir Richard Wyndham is the Corinthian.  Very much a dandy he is known as the “Man of Fashion” who cares for nothing but “the set of his cravat, polish on his boots, and the blending of his snuff“.  Always elegantly attired from his perfectly windswept hair to the toes of his gleaming Hessian boots, he’s generally unutterably bored.  He’s not lacking in encouragement to do his duty to find a wife and beget an heir, but he really couldn’t be bothered.  Nearing thirty his mother and sister are urging him to marry a woman he grew up knowing.  Only it would be a marriage of convenience as the lady is rather cold and disinterested.  She will prevail upon him to accept his suit only because her family’s financial situation is dire, not because she loves him.  Despite being the most eligible catch in the Marriage Mart, he has no other prospects (at least the sort who want him for himself rather than his bank account) and has resigned himself to his fate.

But fate has a way of tripping you up sometimes.  After a particularly long and indulgent evening at Almacks, he leaves in a state of serious inebriation. Being “devilish drunk”, he decides to walk home and happens upon a most unusual sight.  Out of an upper story window of a prim house, a mysterious fugitive comes scampering down a rope made up of knotted sheets only to discover it isn’t long enough.  The fugitive is a slight youth who begs Sir Richard’s assistance. Continue reading

An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer – A Review

Guest review by Elaine Simpson-Long of Random Jottings

An Infamous Army is a novel about the battle of Waterloo with a love story attached, not the other way round and the title refers to the Duke of Wellington’s unkind nickname for the motley collection of national armies under his command in 1815.

The story is set in Brussels where English society, the ‘ton’, had flocked for the season as it was the place to be and a hectic social whirl takes place in the months before Waterloo. Here we find Lord Worth and his now wife, Judith, whose romance we read about in Regency Buck.  Judith, who I freely admit is not one of my favourite Heyer heroines, is now a matron of some years with a child and rather conscious of her status and reputation so when the notorious Bab Childe hits town and Charles Audley, her delightful and charming brother in law falls madly in love with her, she is not best pleased, foreseeing disaster and scandal.

Bab Childe is a character who I really love, though on the surface she seems to have inherited all the wildest characteristics of her grandfather, Vidal (yes he of Devil’s Cub who makes a brief appearance), she is beautiful, brave and warm hearted and it is the involvement we, as readers, have with Charles and Barbara, their coming together, their parting and their final reconciliation which keeps us hooked.

Heyer is very clever here. Would you read some seventy pages given over to a description of the campaign at Waterloo if you were not personally involved? Probably not.  The first time I read this Heyer I was totally overwhelmed with admiration when reading this section – it doesn’t bore, it doesn’t drag, it is as history should be.  It seems that I am not alone in my admiration as this account of the Battle of Waterloo is so highly thought of that it has been used at Sandhurst Military Academy in their training programme ever since.

When reading a biography of Georgette Heyer I came across a rather lovely anecdote from her son who remembers being taken, as a child, to the United Services Institute, where they found a model of the Battle of Waterloo. His mother began to describe it to him, too absorbed to notice the arrival of a party of school children filing in behind her whose mistress told them to hush and listen as she recognized the speaker and knew she was in the presence of an authority.

When I go to my library, I find Heyer’s books filed in the romance section along with Mills & Boon, Harlequin et al. Please don’t think I am dissing such books, I am not.  I adore a good romance as much as the next person but I think Georgette Heyer is a writer who should not be classified in this genre. She deserves more recognition and appreciation. She never received it in her lifetime from the literati of the day and it was a source of some bitterness to her.  She certainly proves that she deserves it in this marvelous book.

An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks (2007)
Trade paperback (492) pages
ISBN: 978-1402210075

Elaine Simpson-Long has been blogging at Random Jottings now for four years and is amazed and delighted by the response she receives from her many visitors.  Thinking that nobody would want to read her thoughts on books as well as opera and life in general, she finds blogging to be enormous fun and very satisfying. Now retired after years of commuting to the city, she enjoys looking after her granddaughter whenever possible, traveling, going to the theatre and opera and of course, reading, reading, reading. Follow Elaine on Twitter as Brooksideelaine.

Celebrating Georgette Heyer – Day 06 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2007) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about the plot or characters, or if you have read it, which is your favorite character or scene by midnight Pacific time, Monday, September 6th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010. Shipment to continental US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Upcoming event posts

Day 06    Aug 09 – Review: The Spanish Bride
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: The Corinthian
Day 07    Aug 11 – Review: Faro’s Daughter
Day 08    Aug 13 – Review: The Reluctant Widow

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