Thursday, December 11, 2008

Charity Girl

Heyer, Georgette. 1970. Charity Girl.

Charity Girl is an enjoyable Regency Romance by Georgette Heyer. It is one of her later novels, and it perhaps loses a little of the charm that made her books sparkle in previous years. But it is an enjoyable read nonetheless. Charity Girl is similar in plotting-but-not-pacing to an earlier novel, Sprig Muslin which Heyer wrote in 1956. Both books feature gentleman rescuing damsels-in-distresses. Both women, I believe, were running away. Both, I believe, were heading from the country to the city. Both gentlemen find the situation frustrating. Both gentlemen take the "damsels" to their old-maid best friends to watch after. Both gentlemen end up with the "old maids" friends. Both men actually have the situation work to their advantage in the romance department strangely enough. But the books are different in many ways.

Viscount Desford is our hero who rescues the young Charity, "Cherry." Cherry is running away from her aunt's house. She's tired of being Cinderella-without-a-prince. She's hoping that her grandfather will take her in. He lives in London. She doesn't. She needs a way to get there...and Des comes through. But when the girl's grandfather isn't home...Desford delivers the girl to the care of Miss Henrietta Silverdale and her mother, Lady Silverdale. Cherry is content to stay there and make the most of her time--helping Lady Silverdale even though she's a bit cranky and becoming good friends with Henrietta. Desford is off on his own to try to track down this grandfather. He tries place after place, city after city, following clue after clue.

There are plenty of twists in this one--to the girl, to her family--and this one really begins to sparkle there in the end. (But it has a slower beginning.) Some memorable characters. Some clever conversations. Enjoyable enough.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Regency Buck

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

Originally published: 1935
Published in trade paperback by Sourcebooks, Inc.: August 1, 2008

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Georgette Heyer book, and I really enjoyed it. This Regency romance novel will delight Jane Austen fans as well as those who find Austen's stories a little too slow.

Judith Travener and her brother Peregrine are wealthy orphans who travel to London to meet their guardian. They expect to find their ward, Lord Worth, to be much older and are shocked to discover he is practically their own age. Life in London gets interesting with the new heiress and her brother in town whilst Lord Worth puts a crimp in everyone's plans.

This is a perfect read for a cold and rainy day--a romance with a little mystery thrown in. My only complaint was that it was a little predictable for me. But I thoroughly enjoyed this and can't wait to read more of Heyer's works.

Charity Girl

Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer
Originally published: 1970
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca: September 1, 2008

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Viscount Desford is an unmarried gentleman who finds Charity Steane running away from her aunt's household on the way to London. Rescuing her puts Desford in a social pickle and he turns to his best friend, Lady Hetta Silverdale, for help. Bound by honor, Desford goes on a search to find Charity's missing grandfather.

I liked Charity Girl, but it was missing something I found more readily in Regency Buck. Perhaps it was that little element of intrigue that kept me turning pages in Regency Buck. Interestingly, Charity Girl was written about 35 years after Regency Buck, and I definitely noticed a difference in her writing style. I found Charity Girl a tad heavy on the Regency period slang and wished I had a dictionary nearby on a few occasions!

Overall, Charity Girl was a nice easy romance. I will continue searching out Georgette Heyer books for my future romance literature fix. She is one of my favorite authors discovered in 2008!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer

Fanny Wendover, young, attractive and lively has certainly caught the eye of many men. But lately, a dashing young man who seems too good to be true, Stacy Calverleigh has set his sights on her. He has charmed her and her aunt, Selina, with his appealing attitude and sweet words. Unfortunately, Fanny’s other aunt, Abigail or Abby, thinks that Stacy is just a guy who’s more interested in Fanny’s money.

Since Fanny’s an orphan, she’s been under the care of her two doting aunts and her uncle who’s her guardian. Fearing that Fanny will be tricked and hurt by Stacy, Abby tries to keep them apart. Well, she can’t really separate them but she keeps an eye on them whenever she can. Fanny is only 17 years old and Stacy’s much older. Therefore, it’s quite odd and disturbing to know that an older man would genuinely be interested in Fanny. There’s also been a case of unsuccessful elopement in Stacy’s past.

Now there’s another Calverleigh in the picture. It is Stacy’s uncle, Miles Calverleigh who has also tried to elope some 20 years ago. Because of that and as punishment, he’s been sent to live in India. Well, the prodigal son has since returned and he has set his sights on Abigail Wendover herself! Two Calverleighs showing interest in two Wendovers! It couldn’t be more fascinating.

Miles doesn’t seem to care for anyone else or what other people think of him. Although Abby tries to refrain herself from laughing out loud at the things that Miles say, she just couldn’t help chuckling every now and then during their conversations. They’re obviously falling for each other but can the Wendover family accept such a man as Miles Calverleigh, the known black sheep of his family?

The ending is a delightful one. I was curious to find out if Stacy will actually marry Fanny or if he’ll just ditch her because he can’t get approval from her aunt and uncle. Will Fanny also see his true colours and not put him on so high a pedestal?

I’m so glad this book has been a better read than Friday’s Child, the first Georgette Heyer book I’ve read. There are only 18 chapters in this book so it wasn’t quite a drag. I was pleasantly surprised to come across some funny parts in it and actually laughed at them. I don’t remember laughing once with Friday’s Child! Maybe I should give these books a chance.

*Cross posted here*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday's Child by Georgette Heyer

This was my first Georgette Heyer book and at least, it’s better than Austen. It is still dull for me, the story was slow and I really couldn’t wait to finish the book! So I’m really, really glad it’s over.

Anyway, what day were you born on? I was born on a Wednesday and I guess I’m full of woe. Friday’s child is loving and giving, which describes Hero perfectly. Hero’s an orphan and she’s been under her cousin’s care ever since she was young. Well, her cousin wasn’t really fond of her and her life’s actually quite miserable.

The hero in the story would be Sherry or Lord Sheringham. He has asked the Incomparable or Isabella for her hand in marriage but was rejected. Feeling indignant that he should be married right away so that he can have full control of his money, which was left to him by his late father, he vowed that he’d marry the next girl he meets. Sherry’s quite addicted to gaming and he is in a lot of debts.

And it’s no other than Hero Wantage who’s about to be sent to Bath to become a governess. She’s also Sherry’s childhood friend and adores him completely. When he suggests that they get married, she agrees on the condition that they don’t interfere in each other’s lives. It’s like they’re free to do what they want but in a discreet way, I guess. So, they set off to London and Hero says goodbye to being a governess.

With the help of Sherry’s cousins, Gil and Ferdy, the wedding goes smoothly. They nickname Hero ‘Kitten’. After that, life goes on as usual. Hero gets along very well with Gil, Ferdy, and another of Sherry’s friend, George, who’s completely smitten with Isabella and has always been trying to win her heart. Thanks to the characters of Gil, Ferdy, and George, as they make the story much more interesting! What would the book be without them?

Hero also lands herself in a number of scrapes and Sherry helps her out since he’s her husband and he’s responsible for her. But for how long will he tolerate it all? Hero utterly worships him and would do anything to make him happy. Whatever he says, she follows. She doesn’t really have a mind of her own but then when it comes to love, can’t blame her, right?

If you want to try Georgette Heyer’s books, I’m not sure if you should start with this one. I have more Heyer books to go and I hope that they might be better than this.

*cross posted here*

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Reluctant Widow

Heyer, Georgette. 1946. The Reluctant Widow.

The Reluctant Widow surprised me. Completely surprised me. You'd think by now that I'd be used to how good Georgette Heyer novels are. But no, I can be a bit dense sometimes. What threw me on this one, is that it added some mystery and suspense--and some gothic elements borrowed from classics as well--to the wit and romance I've come to expect. I am not a big mystery-suspense fan, but this one worked for me. Really really worked for me.

After her father committed suicide, Elinor Rochdale decides the best thing for her to do is to find herself a situation (employment) as a governness. She doesn't want to be a poor, helpless female relation to be traded around her few remaining relatives. Her mind is made up. Her bags are pack. She's ready to board the coach. Only problem is...she boards the wrong coach. Instead of arriving at Mrs. Macclesfield's estate to care for a six year old boy, she arrives at a strange estate owned by Lord Carlyon. He thinks she's there in reply to his advertisement. He is looking for a woman to marry his cousin Eustace Cheviot.

This mix up is not immediately evident to either party. And it makes for a rather comical dialogue. But once he realizes the mistake--he becomes convinced that this mistake was pure fate. His cousin, Eustace, they soon learn is on his death bed. A suitable woman must be found--so he claims--to marry him before he takes his last breath. And in Carlyon's (also "Ned") opinion, Miss Rochdale is quite the woman for the job. He does manipulate her in a way to say yes. To marry a complete stranger is an odd request. But his argument that he won't last through the night carries some weight. She won't be burdened by an actual husband. She'll be a widow soon enough. And there might just be enough money from her husband's estate to give her enough to live on--if she's economical--the rest of her life. It's a tempting offer. But one that she is almost always hesitant of.

But say yes she does. And soon Eustace is with us no more. His death--ruled accidental--came at his cousin's hand. Lord Carlyon has two brothers--John and Nicky. Nicky, quite in self defense, is responsible for Eustace's death. In the coming week--between his death and his funeral--it is revealed that Eustace had more than a few secrets he'd been keeping. The family soon suspects that he was involved in espionage. Mrs. Cheviot (Miss Rochdale, Elinor) has to live on her husband's estate--a place called Highnoons. There are a few servants remaining. And Carlyon is off to fetch Elinor's former governess, Miss Beccles (Becky). Nicky who took an instant liking to his new cousin wants to hang around the place as well with his dog, Bouncer, to protect them all.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Soon after Mrs. Cheviot moves in, she's greeted by a strange man--a man with a French accent--who appeared out of nowhere, with no introduction. He did not enter through the front door. No, she learns he entered through a secret passageway. And that scares her--as well it shoud. Telling Nicky of her unexpected visitor, he decides to leave Bouncer with her to protect her. (A job he is more than happy to take on.) And he soon comes (within a day) to the decision to remain there with her himself. He has a mind that the mystery man will be back to search the house. And he wants to be ready for him.

I'll stop there. Let me just say that I loved this one. Loved, loved, loved it. Loved all three of the brothers--Ned, John, Nicky. Loved Bouncer, the dog. Loved Becky, the former governess. Loved the main character Elinor. Loved the story.

Mystery. Suspense. Great wit. Great characters. Fast-paced. Everything to love, nothing to hate.

Definitely recommended.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, November 10, 2008

Regency Buck

Heyer, Georgette. 1935. Regency Buck.

"Newark was left behind and the post-chaise-and-four entered on a stretch of flat country which offered little to attract the eye, or occasion remark."

Georgette Heyer was a wonderful writer. A beloved writer, in fact, known for her regency romances in particular. Her books are rich in detail--but not in a burdening, cumbersome way. And her characters are always nicely drawn from human nature--flaws abound, but that's always a good thing. Vices and temptations abound in her works--drinking, gambling (be it at the gaming table or in a sporting arena), keeping bad company, and fashion to name just a few examples. (How is fashion a vice? Well, if you're too vain or selfish and spend too much time primping in front of a mirror, then chances are you're in for a comeuppance. Also, spending too much money on fashion--clothes, hats, gloves, jewelry, etc.--is just one way it can be a vice.)

In Regency Buck, we've got the story of a brother and sister newly arrived in London. Peregrine Tavener, the brother, and his older sister, Judith Tavener. They are coming to set up house, and perhaps even more importantly to meet their guardian. (Both of their parents have died. And the father's will left them under the care of Lord Worth.) They are expecting an older gentleman. A man that would have been the contemporary of their father. Someone with gout presumably. What they find is that Lord Worth is a young man--just a handful of years older. He isn't particularly pleased with this added responsibility, and he's not shy admitting this to his wards. But for one year at least--until Judith's birthday--Lord Worth is their official guardian.

The Taveners do set up their own house. Mrs. Scattergood, a relation (cousin???) of Lord Worth, is Judith's companion. Needed during that time to protect young women and provide them with counsel on how to behave in society. An older woman to act as chaperone. Of course, Peregrine, offers protection to his sister as well. But who's protecting him? Peregrine being prone to gambling and partying. When Peregrine becomes engaged to a young woman, Harriet, then a few strange coicidences occur to threaten his life which convinces Worth that someone is out to kill his ward.

The two stand to inherit much money when they come of age. And for this reason, suitors abound for Judith's hand. One of her most persistent suitors is her cousin, Bernard Tavener. But Lord Worth turns them all away. Saying that no man will marry her while he is still her guardian. Something that both repulses and pleases her. She's known some of the men are completely unsuitable--some as old as her father, all looking for a wealthy wife--but the idea of being controlled by a man irritates her at the same time.

Worth (Julian) and Judith (whom he persists in calling Clorinda) are always bickering. The banter flows easily between these two. While both tend to be a bit cranky around the other, the reader knows without any doubts that these two secretly feel very differently about each other.

I love Worth and Judith. I love the rich-layers of Regency Buck as well. For example, Judith's reading of Sense and Sensibility. And the presence of Lord Byron and the discussion of his poetry. There are a dozen or so other things I could point out, but those are just two examples of bits that made me smile.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday's Child

Friday’s Child is the first book I’ve read by Georgette Heyer. It is completely different from the type of books I normally read and at first I thought I wouldn’t like it but I soon changed my mind. It’s a light-hearted novel that’s easy to read, although full of Heyer’s Regency slang.

In 1943 when she was working on Friday’s Child Georgette Heyer wrote to her publisher describing it as:

a Regency society-comedy quite in my lightest vein. … Nothing mysterious or very exciting happens, but I think it is pretty lively.

Twenty years later she described it as 'my own favourite'. I found it entertaining and amusing. Lord Sheringham (Sherry) is rejected by the Incomparable and outstandingly beautiful Miss Milborne and vows to marry the first woman he meets. Fortunately this happens to be Hero Wantage (Kitty), a young and naive girl who has loved him since childhood. Although he is not in the least in love with her they elope.

The story is quite predictable, but none the less enjoyable, as Kitty and Sherry embark on a series of mishaps, mayhem and scrapes. The trouble is that he doesn't realise she loves him and carries on as though he were still single and she takes what he says as the gospel truth, resulting in chaos and disaster. Eventually she takes the drastic step of running away from him aided and abetted by his friends, George, Lord Wrotham, Mr Ringwood and the Hon. Ferdy Fakenham. The end result as Sherry desperately tries to find her is very much in the vein of a Whitehall farce, with disguises and mistaken identities.

Georgette Heyer's portrayal of Regency England is superb in detail and atmosphere. The beauty and skill of this elegant, romantic novel is that it transported me back in time to Regency England, a time of dashing heros and enterprising heroines. I'm now looking forward to reading more.

Cross posted at Margaret's BooksPlease blog

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cousin Kate

Heyer, Georgette. 1968. Cousin Kate.

At no time during the twenty-four hours was the Bull and Mouth Inn a place of quiet or repose, and by ten o'clock in the morning, when the stage-coach from Wisbech, turning top-heavily out of Aldersgate, lumbered into its yard, it seemed, to one weary and downcast passenger at least, to be post-chaise to a wagon, with its shafts cocked up and the various packages and bundles it carried strewn over the yard.

Kate Malvern is our heroine in Georgette Heyer's Cousin Kate. The novel is deliciously dark. It is the story of a a woman, a woman of four and twenty, who being orphaned and recently fired from her job as a governess comes to leave with her aunt and uncle. Aunt Minerva, Sir Timothy, Cousin Torquil are the rather strange residents of Staplewood. A house that seems to be a character in and of itself as far as mood and ambiance are concerned. Minerva is her father's half-sister. And Kate is meeting this side of her family for the very first time. Being quite penniless, she's very thankful that Minerva and her husband (who is twenty years older than his wife) are willing to take her in. But it doesn't take her very long to realize that there's something not quite right about the situation--the house, the servants, her cousin, her aunt, etc. Her instincts are telling her that something is really not right. There's the fact that she hears a few screams. The fact that her aunt locks her into her room each night. There's the strangled animal(s) she comes across in the woods.

But one good at least comes from Kate's accepting the charity of her aunt and uncle. She meets "cousin" Philip. The nephew of Sir Timothy. Philip isn't immediately drawn to Kate. He thinks her to be taking advantage of Sir Timothy. He believes her to be in cahoots with Aunt Minerva and scheming to get her pretty little hands on the Staplewood estate. But a few meetings with her--a few short conversations--convinces him that they don't come sweeter than Kate. And he learns that most everyone likes her because she is genuinely good and sweet and kind. She's "quality" though penniless. A true human being worthy of respect and devotion. If only...if only he could find a way to save her from the "crushing" generosity of Aunt Minerva before it's too late.

This one isn't quite as dark and deliciously spooky as Jane Eyre or Rebecca, yet it had in some ways a similar vibe. There was an intense creepiness that just gives this one a gothic feel.

For fans of historical fiction, light mystery with a teeny gothic touch, and romance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies.
For many, Heyer IS Regency, but this novel is set a little earlier, towards the end of the eighteenth century (1775 to be precise), when ladies of quality were wearing hoop
ed skirts and hair was dressed elaborately high with padding. Mrs Maulfrey, seen arriving at the home of Lady Winwood in the opening sentence, is wearing paniers à coudes wide enough to brush the banisters as she climbs the stairs. We can immediately tell that Mrs Maulfrey only thinks she is the height of fashion, since by that time such large paniers would not be normal day dress. A further example of the way in which Heyer judges her writing to a nicety is that the actual heroine, Horatio Winwood, is the last of the Winwood daughters to be introduced to the reader, in keeping with her position as the youngest, and barely out of the schoolroom. Miss Winwood – Elizabeth – is a Beauty, Charlotte is a bit of a termagant and Horatia (named for Mr Walpole) is almost plain (think Viola Bonham-Carter in a polonaise).

The plot is as follows: the Earl of Rule, urged on by his sister, who thinks at thirty-five it is time he got married, has offered for the hand of Miss Winwood, who is greatly enamoured of the penniless (well, comparatively!) Mr Heron, a soldier. Turning him down is not to be thought of, however – the fortunes of the family are at stake, since the only son suffers from the Family Failing: his gambling debts are crippling, but a Good Marriage will save them. Miss Charlotte might do for a bride at a pinch, but she insists she will not leave Mama. No one would seriously consider Horatia, who is only seventeen. Nonetheless, she decides on the best course of action, and sets off (with her maid, you'll be relieved to hear, she isn't entirely reckless) to inform Lord Rule accordingly. She is candid about her failings – her lack of years, her eyebrows that won't arch (though she does have the family nose) and her stammer – but ventures that she is thought to be sensible, and she thinks they might get on if they don't interfere with each other.

It's unfortunate for Horry that Rule has a mistress, an old enemy, and an heir who would like to preserve his inheritance. Her brother Pelham, though well-meaning, has a knack of creating scandal rather than suppressing it, and Horry is soon enmeshed in a tangle which will bring her husband's disapproval down upon her head, and her attempts to extricate herself only seem to make matters worse. It is no help that Horry herself has rather succumbed to the family failing, and is an enthusiastic card player.

The Convenient Marriage dates from 1934, before Heyer had entirely got into her stride, I feel. Horry isn't such a rounded character, or quite as much fun as, say, Sophia Stanton-Lacy in The Grand Sophy, or my own joint favourites, Frederica and Arabella, and the story lacks the delicious mayhem of these later books. This is not to detract from a thoroughly amusing read, with particularly good period detail in the wardrobe department – there are some lovely descriptions of the macaroni, Mr Drelincourt, while Pelham's friend Sir Roland Pommeroy sets the mould for some splendid best friends in later novels (notably Gil, Ferdy and George in Friday's Child, for which it serves as something of a dry run). It's not Heyer at the height of her abilities but, if you already love her work and haven't read it, do!

Finally, this picture by Louis Rolland Trinquesse dates from 1776, and shows costume of the period, although my Arrow edition of The Convenient Marriage (above) has well-chosen cover artwork, a portrait of Penelope Lee Acton by George Romney, which nicely depicts the kind of dresses the Misses Winwood were wearing in the opening chapter: "morning toilets of worked muslin over slight hoops, with Tiffany sashes round their waists. Countrified, thought Mrs Maulfrey..."

Cross-posted at Geranium Cat's Bookshelf.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Heyer, Georgette. 1953 (Reprinted in 2007) Cotillion. Published by Sourcebooks, Inc.

First sentence: The saloon, like every other room in Arnside House, was large and lofty, and had been furnished, possibly some twenty years earlier, in what had then been the first style of elegance.

It may not have you at hello, but this Regency romance is quite satisfying by the end. Quite happy-making actually. Though the first few chapters may take some patience, by the time the action moves to London and out of the country, this book begins to shine. It is the story of a young woman, Kitty, who stands to inherit a bit of money if she will marry one of her "cousins." Mind you, in this situation, the term is used loosely in that Kitty was an orphaned child an old man had taken in and raised. These "cousins" are his great-nephews. There are five: George (who is married so he's ineligible), Hugh, (a clergyman), Foster (the Mama's boy of all Mama's boys), Jack (who doesn't bother to show up because he's too busy gambling and being a Rake) and Freddy. Kitty, who is just a girl of eighteen or nineteen, wants to get out of the house, out of the country, and she sees a sham engagement to Freddy as her way out. If they become engaged, then surely he must take her to London to meet his family. He must. And if she should get some shopping and socializing in--operas and balls and such--then so much the better. Kitty, honest girl that she is, doesn't try to fool him. She's upfront from the start. This "phony" engagement is her idea from start to finish, and Freddy does take some convincing there at the start.

Soon after their arrival in London, Kitty begins her stay with her future-sister-in-law, Meg. Meg is married, but her husband is out of town. Out of the country in fact. And Meg sees Kitty as a way to have a chaperon or companion that isn't all-too-clever in the ways of the ton. Also for Meg taking on Kitty as a project is fun for her. London is a whole new world for Kitty. New places to see, new people to meet, and a few old acquaintances to bump into as well.

Georgette Heyer's Cotillion reads like a cross of Fanny Burney and Jane Austen. In particular, Burney's Camilla and Austen's Emma.

While I found all of the novel to be enjoyable, the last hundred pages were incredibly so. The pace quickens dramatically and everything seems to happen all at once. All the small little details that were introduced one by one in the first half of the novel all begin to come together quite rapidly. The clearer the big picture becomes, the more satisfying it is.

Definitely recommended to historical fiction fans especially if you love Regency Romance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Lady of Quality

Heyer, Georgette. 1957. Lady of Quality.

"The elegant travelling carriage which bore Miss Wychwood from her birthplace, on the border of Somerset and Wiltshire, to her home in Bath, proceeded on its way at a decorous pace." (1)

Lady of Quality's first line may not sparkle as much as Austen's famous one, "IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." But just give it time. Trust me. This one has everything and more that you'd expect in an Austen novel: wit, humor, romance, quirky characters, as well as a few genuinely likable ones.

Such is the case with Lady of Quality. Miss Annis Wychwood is almost thirty years old. And in that time, the Regency period, thirty might as well have been sixty. Spinster is spinster no matter if you're thirty, blond, and witty or wrinkly, gray, and stubborn. But Annis is comfortable in her singleness. Or at least she prefers to see herself as comfortable. It helps that in Annis' situation, she's wealthy enough to have her own house and household. (By household I mean servants and such). If Annis had to live under her brother's roof, well, it would be a different story altogether. She does NOT get along with her brother, Geoffrey, though she does get along in a way with her sister-in-law. Yes, folks might think it a bit strange that she'd rather be independent and living on her own--and a good day's travel away from her brother and his wife--but they've become accustomed to it. But when our novel opens, Annis is about to do something a bit more unexpected, a bit more shocking.

Lucilla Carleton is just a young thing--not even eighteen--when she decides to run away from her aunt. (Her aunt is her primary guardian.) Her aunt wants her to marry the son of her father's best friend. A man, Ninian, that she's practically grown up with. It's not that she doesn't like him. But she doesn't like him like him. At least she says as much. As does he when given the opportunity. (The two like to bicker about how they don't want to be together.) Annis comes across this bickering pair on her way to Bath. Their carriage (or vehicle) has broken down--a problem with one of the wheels. Annis is too much of a lady to leave the poor girl in distress. She invites the young woman to come with her, to stay with her. Through their trip and the first day back at home, Annis hears all about Lucilla, her aunt, Ninian, and his over-bearing parents the Lord and Lady Iverley. Lucilla has runaway it's true but it's because her aunt is passive aggressive. She manipulates through tears and pleas and looks.

What is Annis to do? Welcome her home to this girl she barely knows yet instantly likes? Or send her packing with much tears of distress? She decides that the girl must write a letter to an aunt. She'll be allowed to stay with Miss Wychwood in Bath, it's true, but it's a temporary solution to the girl's problem. But this nice letter home has unattended results. Her aunt being of the nervous sort on the best of days writes a letter--a tear-soaked and illegible letter to the girl's legal guardian--Lucilla's Uncle Oliver. Oliver Carleton.

The last thing Annis expected was to be visited by Oliver Carleton. A man (from London) with the reputation of the worst sort. A truly grumpy, stubborn sort of man who speaks without thinking of the consequences, who enjoys speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth come what may. Obey society's nicety-nice rules? Not a chance! A man with a sharp but witty tongue comes to Bath to get to the bottom of this mess. He doesn't want Lucilla. He's not there to take her away, he's there to investigate this woman, this stranger who has interfered and butted into his business, his family.

Let the fun begin.

Oliver and Annis. Oh the sparks will fly. Despite her claims of being ancient and spinsterly, Oliver can't help thinking that she's entirely unsuitable for chaperoning his niece. She should be the one being courted and pursued and wooed by men. She's beautiful. She's witty. She's intelligent. There's just a certain something about her that he can't ignore. Annis never in a million years thought she'd feel this way, this maddeningly confusingly wonderful feeling. She can't stand him; and yet, she keeps hoping she'll see him again.

For anyone who loves Much Ado About Nothing and/or Pride and Prejudice, Lady of Quality is for you. It is a wonderfully giddy-making novel.

Heyer's novels are rich in detail combining history and romance with wit and charm and some unforgettable characters. If you're looking for a place to start, I'd highly recommend beginning with Lady of Quality.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

The Challenge

The Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge is a perpetual challenge. There is no 'official' start/end date set by the host. (If you want to set your own time limits, you may.) My goal in establishing this challenge is simple: I want to read as many Heyer novels as I can. While Heyer spent some years out of print, each year more and more of her novels are being rereleased for a new generation to enjoy. You may be lucky enough to find Heyer novels at a local used shop or used online. You might find some Heyer novels at your local library. Or you may want to invest in some new copies. Paperbacks are being published by several different companies including Sourcebooks, Inc. and Arrow Books. You can choose to focus on just the Regency romance novels, just the historical novels, or just the mysteries. Whatever you want to read is fine by me.

There are no set number of books you'd be required to read. You might want to read six. You might want to read twelve. You might want to read them all. Or you might just want to read two.

If you'd like to join me in my reading challenge, let me know by leaving a comment. If you'd like the opportunity to share your reviews (optional) with others, I can invite you to join the blog. If this is something that would interest you, just leave your email address in the comments. (So to sum it up, to join the challenge leave a comment. If you want an invite, leave a comment that includes your email address.)

The Books

Historical novels

The Black Moth 1921, Constable, 1929, Heinemann

Powder and Patch (originally published as The Transformation of Philip Jettan,1923, Mills & Boon), 1930, Heinemann

The Great Roxhythe 1923, Hutchinson, 1929, Heinemann

Simon the Coldheart 1925, Heinemann

These Old Shades 1926, Heinemann

The Masqueraders 1928, Heinemann

Beauvallet 1929, Heinemann

The Conqueror 1931, Heinemann

Devil’s Cub 1932, Heinemann

The Convenient Marriage 1934, Heinemann

Regency Buck 1935, Heinemann

The Talisman Ring 1936, Heinemann

An Infamous Army 1937, Heinemann

Royal Escape1938, Heinemann

The Spanish Bride 1940, Heinemann

The Corinthian 1940, Heinemann

Faro’s Daughter 1941, Heinemann

Friday’s Child 1944, Heinemann

The Reluctant Widow 1946, Heinemann

The Foundling 1948, Heinemann

Arabella 1949, Heinemann

The Grand Sophy 1950, Heinemann

The Quiet Gentleman 1951, Heinemann

Cotillion 1953, Heinemann

The Toll-Gate 1954, Heinemann

Bath Tangle 1955, Heinemann

Sprig Muslin 1956, Heinemann

April Lady 1957, Heinemann

Sylvester:Or the Wicked Uncle 1957, Heinemann

Venetia 1958, Heinemann

The Unknown Ajax 1959, Heinemann

A Civil Contract 1961, Heinemann

The Nonesuch 1961, Heinemann

False Colours 1963, Bodley Head

Frederica 1965, Bodley Head

Black Sheep 1966, Bodley Head

Cousin Kate 1968, Bodley Head

Charity Girl 1970, Bodley Head

Lady of Quality 1971, Bodley Head

My Lord John 1975, Bodley Head

Short stories

Pistols for Two 1960, Heinemann

Contemporary novels

Instead of the Thorn 1923, Hutchinson

Helen 1928, Longman

Pastel 1929, Longman

Barren Corn 1930, Longman

Crime novels

Footsteps in the Dark 1932, Longman

Why Shoot a Butler? 1933, Longman

The Unfinished Clue 1934, Longman

Death in the Stocks 1935, Longman

Behold, Here’s Poison 1936, Hodder & Stoughton, 1953, Heinemann

They Found Him Dead 1937, Hodder & Stoughton

A Blunt Instrument 1938, Hodder & Stoughton, 1954, Heinemann

No Wind of Blame 1939, Hodder & Stoughton

Envious Casca 1941, Hodder & Stoughton, 1955, Heinemann

Penhallow 1942, Heinemann

Duplicate Death 1951, Heinemann

Detection Unlimited 1953, Heinemann