Tag: regency romance

Scandal by Amanda Quick

Scandal by Amanda QuickScandal by Amanda Quick
Published by Bantam on February 28th 1991
Genres: Romance
Pages: 329
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
three-stars

With her reputation forever tarnished by a youthful indiscretion, lovely Emily Faringdon is resigned to a life of spinsterhood, until she embarks on an unusual correspondence and finds herself falling head over heels in love. Sensitive, intelligent, and high-minded, her noble pen pal seems to embody everything Emily has ever dreamed of in a man. But Simon Augustus Traherne, the mysterious Earl of Blade, is not all that he seems.

Driven by dark, smoldering passions and a tragic secret buried deep within his soul, Blade has all of London cowering at his feet, but not Emily...never Emily. For even as she surrenders to his seductive charms, she knows the real reason for his amorous suit. And she knows that she must reach the heart of this golden-eyed dragon before the avenging demons of their entwined pasts destroy the only love she has ever known...

I am laughing so hard as I think of this book and what to write. Look I used to devour Amanda Quick’s older books with the one word description and usually a random object on the cover. There were some that were really good. And there were some that may be wonder about the intelligence of the hero/heroine involved. “Scandal” is definitely the latter. You have a sort of reformed rake trope taking place here (though the hero is not really a rake, he’s just an out and out ass) with a naive heroine that believes that love transcends everything. Seriously, learn to love the phrases “higher plane” and “cast adrift on love’s transcendent golden, shore”. Also she calls or thinks of the hero as a “dragon” so learn to love that word as well as the word “elf” that the hero calls the heroine.

The heroine in “Scandal” is Emily Faringdon. Emily is an aspiring writer (her epic poem sounds awful by the way) and thinks she is going to forever lead a solitary life in the countryside due to a scandal (where the title comes from) in her past. When Emily was younger, she ran away to get married and then realized on the way what a bad idea it was. Emily was not found til the next day, so of course in Regency era times this means she is considered an indiscreet young woman which no man would offer for. This suits Emily’s father since he just uses Emily in order to have her keep him and her two twin brothers (Charles and Devlin) afloat due to her investment schemes. Emily starts up a correspondence with a man claiming to have her love of literature and then one days he announces he will be staying at a neighbor’s home and they can finally meet. Emily meets Simon Traherne, also known as the Earl of Blade. Simon has his own reasons for pursuing Emily, and it’s all about revenge.

So Emily…is kind of tedious and aggravating. When Emily finally meets Simon she decides that they are soul mates (I refuse to go back and look to see if that phrase is used) and even when she is told why Simon is pursuing her and wants to marry her (to avenge himself on her father) she still marries the guy. It was beyond ridiculous. Who marries someone who tells you that your father was responsible for his father committing suicide and you are part of his master plan to get revenge on all people who wronged him.

Image result for no gif

It baffles me throughout this book how cruel Simon is again and again to Emily and she is all, but I know that he loves me, so this makes it okay. I kept half hoping Emily would brain him with something. And though I had a small smidgen of sympathy towards Simon because of what happened to him and his mother due to his father’s suicide, him going after in some cases the children of the men who wronged him gets you over that real quick.

Image result for modern family sigh gifs

Simon sucks. Seriously. I don’t know what in the world made Emily even want to be with the guy besides the fact she kept saying they had a metaphysical connection. Simon the day after their wedding forbids her to see her father or her twin brothers again. I know back in Regency days you couldn’t divorce, but I hated the fact that Quick has Emily decide to not be physically with Simon again after his announcement, and then has her run off.  Simon thinks eventually Emily will be too curious about sex with him to not want to do it again and he will end up winning his way. Due to Simon spending time in the East (and no that is the way it is referred to in the book) he has strange notions about revenge, sins of the father, and apparently knows karate. Or Judo. Or Kung-Fu. I honestly did not get his movements at all, though at one time Quick references Simon chopping someone in the neck with his hand and I died laughing for five minutes. Iron Fist this guy is not.

We have other characters in “Scandal” and Emily’s father is terrible. How she ignores it also drives me up a wall. There’s a resolution about that guy at the end which made me smile. But I would have been happy with sharks being in play at some point. Emily’s brother get some more detail, but not much in this one, and it would have been nice to follow up with both of them in subsequent books.

The plot in this one is really thin though. Due to Emily’s past, no one is to refer to her scandal, and Simon is so powerful he believes he can squelch any commentary about it with threats or favors. Frankly, I don’t really get why this would matter in Regency days, marriage fixes everything, or so most of the romance books I read had me believe. And there’s a secondary plot that involves Emily’s secret being discovered that is only a couple dozen pages. Honestly, most of the book is just Emily and Simon having sex, Simon being nasty, Emily being obtuse about his terribleness, and Emily deciding that love will see them through.

The writing at times was super hilarious though. Maybe because I cannot believe anyone back then spoke like this. It felt like very bad stage directions were being given to actors a few times.

Simon gently refolded the letter and sat gazing into the fire. After a moment’s contemplation, he reached out to pick up the beautifully enameled Chinese teapot that sat on a nearby table. He poured the Lap Seng into a gossamer thin cup decorated with a green and gold dragon. As he started to lift the cup, he paused, studying the figure of the mythical beast.

The remainder of the comment was lost as Simon pivoted swiftly in the graceful movements of the ancient fighting art he had learned in the East. He knew his unorthodox, potentially lethal method would have astounded the young bloods who practiced boxing at Gentleman Jackson’s academy. They would have been even more perplexed by the elaborate techniques for establishing mental discipline and control that the monks had taught along with the physical skills.

I can’t help it, this whole book just makes me shake my head. We hear about references to China, monks, the “East” and whatnot.

The flow was up and down throughout. Like I said, there was very little plot with this one unlike with other Quick books so you are just really waiting for the hero to stop being a jerk and just fall in love with the heroine already. Or at least I was.

I do love Regency era books though. I think I get a kick out of them just because I cannot imagine a society like that nowadays. Of course you realize this was what Polite Society in England did back then, but still, these books always give you a good peek at them.

This is a romance novel so of course realize there is a HEA.

I read this for Romance Bingo 2017, and this book fits the regency romance square.

 

 

three-stars

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

A Civil Contract by Georgette HeyerA Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
Published by Sourcebooks on 1961
Genres: Romance
Pages: 432
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
five-stars

Adam Deveril, Viscount Lynton, returns home from war to find his family in financial ruin. To help his family, he sacrifices his love for the beautiful Julia and marries plain Jenny Chawleigh, whose father is a wealthy businessman determined to marry his daughter into a title.

Adam chafes under Mr. Chawleigh's generosity, and Julia's behavior upon hearing of the betrothal nearly brings them all into a scandal. But Jenny's practicality and quiet love for Adam bring him comfort and eventually happiness. And over time, their arranged marriage blossoms into love and acceptance across the class divide.

I am going to gush.

I’ve read a lot of Georgette Heyer – as the originator of the regency romance, she is a hugely influential author. She is a talented, careful writer with a flair for comedy, and some of her best books are also some of her funniest.

A Civil Contract is a departure from her usual formula, and it knocked my socks off. It begins with Adam Deveril being forced to return home from his position in the Army, as his spendthrift father has unexpectedly died in a riding accident, and he has inherited Fontley, the rapidly deteriorating family seat, and a whole pile of debt incurred by his improvident parent. I’m sure he intended to remake the family fortunes, if he could step away from the gaming table/horse races long enough to stop losing money, but whatevs, dad. Way to go.

Adam is most definitely not cut from same cloth as his father, though they may share a tailor. He is a clear-eyed realist with some actual scruples, and it becomes apparent that Fontley is going to have to be sold to pay for the debts left behind when dad kicked off the mortal coil. His business manager is relieved to note that Adam doesn’t seem to have many illusions about winning back the family fortunes on the turn of a card, but isn’t thrilled to see the family seat go out of the family, and suggests that Adam look about for an heiress to marry.

Adam, on the other hand, is deeply infatuated with the sylph-like Julia Oversley, this year’s most popular and sought after debutante. And Julia reciprocates these affections. He realizes that he can’t marry Julia, given that once Fontley is sold he will quite literally not even have a pot to pee in, but in the interests of love, he is going to sacrifice himself on the altar of bachelorhood.

And then he meets Jonathan Chawleigh, a wealthy Cit whose made his fortune in trade. Here there be cashflow. Chawleigh has no illusions about Adam being likely to fall in love with his daughter, the ordinary Jenny, but that’s all right with him. He wants Jenny to marry into a social class to which he himself will never gain entry. While he was hoping for an Earl, Adam, a mere Viscount, will do.

He meets Jenny. Small, a bit plump, with a short neck, she is no Julia. But they get on, a bit, and agree to marry.

“He was obliged to master an impulse to retreat, and to tell himself that her acceptance of the proposed match was no more coldblooded than his own.

He was quite as pale as she, and he replied, in a strained voice: ‘Miss Chawleigh, if you feel that you could bear it I shall count myself fortunate. I won’t offer you false coin. To make the sort of protestations natural to this occasion would be to insult you, but you may believe me sincere when I say that if you do me the honour to marry me I shall try to make you happy.’

She got up. ‘I shall be. Don’t think of that! I don’t wish you to try to – Only to be comfortable! I hope I can make you so: I’ll do my best. And you’ll tell me what you wish me to do – or if I do something you don’t like – won’t you?’”

And so it begins. They marry, and try to make a life together.

There are several times in this book where my heart just broke for Jenny. She is obviously in love with Adam – she had been friendly with Julia and had met him while he danced attendance on her much prettier friend. But she is wise beyond her years, and realizes that while she cannot compete with Julia in looks or fairylike appeal, she is married to him, and Julia is not. She sets out to make a place for herself the only way she knows how: by becoming the mistress of Fontley, by not complaining if he is late, by making sure he has his tea how he likes it. If this sounds like Jenny is masquerading as a Golden Retriever, well, I can understand that. But that’s not how it felt. It felt wise. And generous.

And, in the end, Jenny shows herself to be a better person, and a better wife, than the immature and self-centered Julia would have been. Speaking to Julia as she makes the claim that it is Jenny who has gained the most as a result of the marriage, Adam says:

“He did not answer for a moment, and then he said gently: ‘I owe Jenny a great deal, you know. She studies all the time to please me, never herself. Our marriage – isn’t always easy, for either of us, but she tries to make it so, and behaves more generously than I do. Given her so much! You know better than to say that, my dear! I had nothing to give her but a title – and I wonder sometimes if she sets any more store by that than you would.”

Finally, charmingly, convincingly, Adam falls in love with “his Jenny,” not in the infatuated way that a callow youth loves a lovely girl, but with gentle and real commitment:

“Yet, after all, Jenny thought that she had been granted more than she had hoped for when she had married him. He did love her: differently, but perhaps more enduringly; and he had grown to depend on her. She thought that they would have many years of quiet content: never reaching the heights, but living together in comfort and deepening friendship. Well, you can’t have it both ways, she thought, and I couldn’t live in alt all the time, so I daresay I’m better off as things are.”

And so, Heyer convinces me that, in the end, they will be a truly happy couple. Adam will fondly remember his brief but passionate love for Julia. But he will always come home to Jenny, because she, as it turns out, is the love of his life.

“After all, life was not made up of moments of exaltation, but of quite ordinary, everyday things.”

five-stars

Faro’s Daughter: I’ve Found My Perfect Heyer

Faro’s Daughter: I’ve Found My Perfect HeyerFaro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer
Published by Sourcebooks on 1941
Genres: Romance
Pages: 285
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-half-stars

An insult not to be borne
When Max Ravenscar offers her a fortune to refuse the marriage proposal from his young nephew, the beautiful Deborah Grantham is outraged.
A passionate reprisal
She may be the mistress of her aunt’s elegant gambling house, but Miss Grantham will show the insufferable Mr. Ravenscar that she can’t be bribed, even if she has to marry his puppyish nephew to prove it

This will be the one that ends up as my go to recommendation for people who are starting out with Heyer. It used to be The Grand Sophy, but there is that unpleasant anti-semitic streak that runs through it which has led me to be increasingly uncomfortable with recommending that as a first experience with Heyer.

Faro’s Daughter, for me, is as close to a perfect Heyer as I think probably exists. It is as sparkling and effervescent as Sprig Muslin, Deb is as strong-willed and honorable as Sophy, Phoebe is as adorable as Arabella, although not so headstrong. The romance between Ravenscar and Deb is as satisfying as Sir Tristram and Sarah Thane in The Talisman Ring.

Like Sprig Muslin & Talisman Ring, Faro’s Daughter is a double ring romance, with a pair of younger characters and a pair of older characters. And, like both of those books, I absolutely loved the romance between the more mature characters.

Deborah Grantham is the titular faro’s daughter, a moderately impoverished woman of four and twenty, which makes her a bit older than the heroine of the average Regency romance. She and her aunt have opened up a card room in an effort to stave off bankruptcy, which is really not going very well because her aunt sort of sucks at money management, and Deb’s brother is – as is so often the case in these Heyer romances – a drain on the family finances.

Adrian is the young Lord Mablethorpe, who fancies himself in love with the delectable Deb. There’s also a lecherous older character, Lord Ormskirk, who has bought up all of Deb’s aunt’s bills in an effort to force Deborah into becoming his mistress. She is having none of that, of course, but she rather likes Adrian and doesn’t want to hurt him.

The book begins when Lord Ravenscar decides that it is incumbent upon him to save the callow youth from the clutches of the fortune hunter. He badly underestimates Deb’s integrity and kindness, and jumps to all kinds of conclusions. He is a huge conclusion jumper, which is the cause of the misunderstanding that leads to a delightful confusion at the end. Deb has no intention of marrying Adrian, she is much too honorable of a person and she isn’t a bit in love with him, so when Ravenscar offers her twenty-thousand pounds to leave Adrian alone, she loses her shit.

“The palm of Miss Grantham’s hand itched again to hit him, and it was with an immense effort of will that she forced herself to refrain. She replied with scarcely a tremor to betray her indignation. ‘But even you must realise, sir, that Lord Ormskirk’s obliging offer is not to be thought of beside your cousin’s proposal. I declare, I have a great fancy to become Lady Mablethorpe.”

Ravenscar has met his match with the indomitable Deb, but he has no idea. He is accustomed to getting his own way, and is just as pissed as Deb when she turns him down flat, leaving him with the distinct impression that she intends to marry Adrian as soon as Adrian reaches majority, in a bare 60 days. The pitched battle of wills and arms occurs, with Ravenscar buying the bills off Ormskirk, and Deb actually at one point kidnapping Ravenscar and locking him in her basement with the rats.

“‘You have had Ravenscar murdered, and hidden his body in my cellar!’ uttered her ladyship, sinking into a chair. ‘We shall all be ruined! I knew it!’

‘My dear ma’am, it is no such thing!’ Deborah said, amused. ‘He is not dead, I assure you!’

Lady Bellingham’s eyes seemed to be in imminent danger of starting from their sockets. ‘Deb!’ she said, in a strangled voice. ‘You don’t mean that you really have Ravenscar in my cellar?’

‘Yes, dearest, but indeed he is alive!’

‘We are ruined!’ said her ladyship, with a calm born of despair. ‘The best we can hope for is that they will put you in Bedlam.”

These are the only two people in London who could handle each other without asbestos gloves and a welding hood.

The second romance involves Adrian and Phoebe Laxton, who is rescued – by Deb and Adrian – from Vauxhall, where her mercenary family is trying to sell her like a lamb to slaughter to a way, way, way too old creepy aristocrat because in that family, as well, the men are useless, profligate gambles and women are commodities. Phoebe is adorable and sweet, and Deb figures out within about twenty seconds that she is just the girl for Adrian. While Ravenscar is accusing her of being the worst kind of gold-digger, she is neatly solving his problem for him, finding a suitable match, and watching Adrian grow up just in time to take care of the fraught Phoebe.

And so, we come to the end, after Adrian has married Phoebe, he returns to town, runs into Ravenscar, and tells him to wish him happy because he has gone and gotten married. Ravenscar again jumps to the conclusion that Deb has married Adrian just to spite him. He shows up at her house to get into a big fight, and tell her that had she not been in such a hurry, she would have gained a much bigger prize – him.

She tosses him out, furious, saying, in Lizzie Bennett fashion, that he is the last man in the world that she could be prevailed upon to marry.

Ah, young love. If only they’d had some electronics to toss around, a DVD player would clearly have gone out the window. It does, of course, all get worked out in the end, and I am convinced that Ravenscar and Deborah are perfect for one another – honorable, fierce, passionate, and slightly nuts. Their marriage will never be boring, and regency London would have been a better place with them in it.

four-half-stars

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

The Grand Sophy by Georgette HeyerThe Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Published by Sourcebooks on 1950
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 372
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads

New York Times Bestseller! "Sophy sets everything right for her desperate family in one of Georgette Heyer's most popular Regency romances."

When Lady Ombersley agrees to take in her young niece, no one expects Sophy, who sweeps in and immediately takes the ton by storm. Sophy discovers that her aunt's family is in desperate need of her talent for setting everything right: Ceclia is in love with a poet, Charles has tyrannical tendencies that are being aggravated by his grim fiancee, her uncle is of no use at all, and the younger children are in desperate need of some fun and freedom. By the time she's done, Sophy has commandeered Charles's horses, his household, and finally, his heart.

The Grand Sophy was published in 1950, between Arabella and The Quiet Gentleman. It is set in 1816, in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

In spite of one glaringly problematic aspect, which will be further discussed below, The Grand Sophy is my absolute favorite Heyer of all that I have read because I adore Sophy. She is a simply wonderful heroine – outspoken, self-confident, and well-liked in spite of her occasionally unconventional behavior. She is basically the Annie Oakley of regency England right down to the pistol.

Her verbal sparring with the ultimate hero, Charles Rivenhall, is laugh out loud funny:

‘I’ll take care of that!’ he retorted. ‘Let me tell you, my dear cousin, that I should be better pleased if you would refrain from meddling in the affairs of my family!’

‘Now, that,’ said Sophy, ‘I am very glad to know, because if ever I should desire to please you I shall know just how to set about it. I daresay I shan’t, but one likes to be prepared for any event, however unlikely.’

Charles is obviously confounded by Sophy, when she shows up at his house with a dog, a monkey and an attitude. He likes her, at times a great deal, but is befuddled by her lack of fainting spells, her out-spokenness, and her meddling nature as she starts to set things right with his family. Charles is engaged to the antithesis of Sophy, Eugenia Wraxton, who is well-bred, humorless, and smug. One of the funniest aspects of this book is watching Charles struggle with the priggish Miss Wraxton because he is completely loyal to his family, and while he is perfectly comfortable criticizing them, woe betide the person who has the audacity to be critical of them in his presence. Eugenia makes this unfortunate mistake on more than one occasion.

There are two events in the book that really establish the worth of both Sophy and Charles Rivenhall, though. The innocent young man stumbling into debt through gambling is often a feature of Heyer’s stories, and this one is no exception – Charles’ younger brother, Hubert, has found himself deep in debt from gambling and tries to recover his fortunes by taking out a loan from a usurer and betting on a horse race. This – of course – goes badly, and Hubert is deeply ashamed as well as completely demoralized. Sophy is able to extract the truth from him with some skilful and sympathetic questioning, and offers to loan him the money to repay the lender, which he refuses. When Hubert is too ashamed to come clean with Charles, Sophy, naturally, takes matters into her own hands and visits the moneylender.

This could be a successful and funny device to show Sophy’s intrepid nature because she handles the whole thing with aplomb and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, Heyer endows the blackmailer with many of the most pernicious stereotyped character traits of a Jewish moneylender, which makes the entire interaction uncomfortable for the modern day reader. Whether or not Heyer was actually anti-Semitic I will let scholars who have studied her critically address. All I can say about this part of the book is that it detracts from the story in the same way that the unfortunate caricaturing of Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s detracted from that fine movie. It didn’t ruin the experience for me, although I can see how it could for other readers. It is doubly unfortunate because there was simply no need for it, so the only conclusion I can draw is that Heyer did it on purpose for effect. Her narrative goals could have been served by any character that was greasy, unpleasant, and criminal. There are – were – plenty of character types from which she could have drawn without bigotry.

Leaving aside that blight on the book, Charles, as well, shows to advantage as a result of this episode. Far from reproaching his younger brother, he takes Hubert into his confidence and explains that the gaming of their father has left the family essentially destitute, and accepts responsibility for the rift that made it impossible for Hubert to confide in him.

‘Well, I had better make a clean breast of the whole! I went to a rascally moneylender, and I borrowed five hundred from him, for six months. I thought I should have won every penny back, and more beside, at Newmarket. But the damnable screw was unplaced!’ He saw his brother’s expression, and said: ‘You need not look like that! I swear I shall never do so again as long as I live! Of course I ought to have come rather to you, but –’

‘You should have come to me, and that you did not must have been far more my fault than yours!’

The second event relates to the youngest sibling, Amabel, who becomes extremely ill during the course of the book. Charles returns home to find the house in disarray, his mother taken to her bed, and his sister, Cecilia, and Sophy, in charge of nursing the ill child.

‘Oh, yes, tell about the time you were lost in the Pyrenees!’ begged Amabel drowsily. Sophy did so, her voice sinking as the little girl’s eyelids began to droop. Mr Rivenhall sat still and silent on the other side of the bed, watching his sister. Presently Amabel’s deeper breathing betrayed that she slept. Sophy’s voice ceased; she looked up, and met Mr Rivenhall’s eyes. He was staring at her, as though a thought, blinding in its novelty, had occurred to him. Her gaze remained steady, a little questioning. He rose abruptly, half-stretched out his hand, but let it fall again, and, turning, went quickly out of the room.

Am I crazy, or does this remind of this:

odb-The-Look

Swoon. No, seriously. I just died.

For the ending, Heyer brings together all of the disparate and mostly unwitting participants in Sophy’s plans, and shuffles the partners until everyone ends up with their proper match. It is a consummate game of romantic chance, deftly managed, with an eye toward perfect propriety, and only the clever Sophy could have pulled it off. There are a few important side stories that are worth mentioning, most particularly Cecilia’s romance with Fawnhope and Charling, and the indolent Sancia, Sophy’s putative and unwilling step-mama. This is, to my mind, Heyer’s most enjoyable novel to date – witty, sparkling, and genuinely funny.

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

Sprig Muslin by Georgette HeyerSprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
Published by Sourcebooks on 1956
Genres: Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Sir Gareth Ludlow is just about ready to settle for marriage with Lady Hester, a plain woman who falls below his standards (according to his sister). Despite her protests, however, Gareth sets out to propose marriage.

Along the way, he encounters young Amanda wandering unattended. Honor-bound to restore her to her family, the gallant Sir Ludlow finds he has more than he bargained for with his young charge and her runaway imagination.

This installment in The Heyer Read was positively delightful. There were two potential heroines here: Amanda, who was an engaging, adorable child, and Hester, the level-headed spinster, long since on the shelf. The Hero, Gareth, was one of Heyer’s most likeable. He is trustworthy, kind to children and animals, and frequently exasperated by the adorable Amanda. He suffered the loss of his fiancee, the incomparably beautiful and spirited Clarissa, many decades ago and it is assumed that he still carries a torch for the woman.

We begin, as we often begin, with a man for whom it is time to marry. And the woman he has chosen to marry does not please his family.

When I think of all the pretty and lovely girls who have done their best to attach him, and he tells me that he has offered for an insipid female who has neither fortune nor any extraordinary degree of beauty, besides being stupidly shy and dowdy, I – oh, I could go into strong hysterics!

Hester’s family, on the other hand, cannot imagine how she has managed capture the interest of Gareth.

After eyeing her for a moment or two, he said: ‘If you let this chance of achieving a respectable alliance slip, you are a bigger fool than I take you for, Hester!’ Her eyes came round to his face, a smile quivered for an instant on her lips. ‘No, how could that be, Papa?

The side-story with Amanda really highlights Gareth’s fine qualities. There is never a hint of impropriety, or skeeviness, in his relationship with her. He is protective and ensures that she is safe when she repeatedly places herself in unsafe situations. In a modern book, this might be irritating or high-handed. In the regency world, however, where the virtue of a girl like Amanda is paramount to a happy future, it is charming. He rescues her from her own folly time and again, without ever once coming off as the sort of gross older man who is doing it for nefarious reasons. In fact, Gareth is sort of the quintessential and most appealing uncle-type. He is able to forgive youthful folly, even when youthful folly shoots him (literally, not figuratively) in the shoulder.

This does not mean, however, that Gareth is without a certain amount of swoony appeal. The romance between Gareth and Hester is wonderful. He begins by offering what is essentially a marriage of attrition. He rather likes her, finds her worthy of attention, and she’s really the only one left other than girls like Amanda, and he’s not interested at all in marrying a child. His decision to marry her isn’t even a decision of convenience, it is more a decision of bored acquiescence. At the beginning.

But, ah, how their relationship develops over the course of the book. Hester shows herself to be much more adventuresome than even she realized she was (although Ms. Heyer realized it from the very beginning). And Gareth falls for her. For real, this time. The ending of the book is simply wonderful:

When I asked you at Brancaster I held you in affection and esteem, but I believed I could never be in love again. I was wrong. Will you marry me, my dear and last love?’ She took his face between her hands, and looked into his eyes. A sigh, as though she were rid of a burden, escaped her. ‘Yes, Gareth,’ she said. ‘Oh, yes, indeed I will!

It is beautifully convincing.

four-half-stars

© 2017 Bookish Pursuits

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑