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