Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

image © Heinemann 1950
The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer -- Georgian Romance

One of Heyer's early Georgians, this book takes place after the Battle of Bunker Hill. The story opens with the proud Winwood family rejoicing over the Earl of Rule's proposal to Elizabeth. Rule is wealthy and the Winwoods have lost their money to gambling debts owing to the "Fatal Tendency" of the Lords Winwood (late father and son). However, Elizabeth is unhappy because she wishes to marry a mere soldier. Charlotte, the middle sister, refuses to take her sister's place and sacrifice herself to marriage. Youngest sister, Horatia, known as Horry, is willing to do whatever it takes to see her sister happy and that includes marrying Lord Rule even if she has to propose to him herself. Young, stammering Horry manages to capture the attention of the Earl and finding her charming, he agrees to her terms of marriage: 1) Rule will help Elizabeth's soldier and 2) Neither Horry nor Rule will interfere with each other once married. Horry didn't count on falling in love with the Earl and hating his mistress. The spirited Horry decides to befriend the dangerous Lord Lethbridge, after her friends and family tell her not to, because she hopes to make the normally placid Lord Rule jealous. Horry, being afflicted with the Fatal Tendency, very much wants to gamble with Lethbridge but when he names his terms, Horry finds the stakes are higher than she was prepared to deal with. Lord Rule's meddling cousin and heir also tries to make trouble between the married couple and Rule is constantly obliged to pull Horry's ne'er do-well brother out of debt. Will Rule get tired of the drama and divorce Horry or will he rouse himself to rescue her and value her as he should? This is not one of Heyer's better novels, in my opinion. Having already read April Lady and Friday's Child, the plot felt tired and the dialogue less charming and witty and more silly. The Georgian fashions are described in meticulous detail but are difficult to follow for someone who isn't familiar with all the French fashions. The plot picks up about 3/4 of the way through the book and I found the last chapter amusing. Until then, I found the book slow and uninteresting and the dialogue terrible. Lord Rule is kind of intriguing because he's quiet and isn't active in many of his scenes. Horry seemed liked she'd be charming but I found her stammering made her dialogue difficult to read and I just didn't like her behavior from the time she was married until the very end. I'm not fond of stories about marriages of convenience to begin with though or teenage heroines. If you prefer the screwball comedy of The Grand Sophy or Frederica or the grown-up romance of Venetia, then skip this one. If you loved Friday's Child, April Lady or Cotillion then you will probably enjoy this as well.

 © Heinemann, Australia 1951
The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer -- Regency Romance

Gervase, the Seventh Earl of St. Erth returns to his ancestral home after successfully surviving the wars much to the dismay of his ambitious step-mother and spoiled half-brother Martin. His cousin and agent, Theo, is pleased to see Ger as is Druscilla Morville, a neighbor and sometimes companion to Ger's step-mother. Ger is quiet and doesn't fight back, therefore his step-mother thinks she can continue to rule the household with an iron fist and send the Earl running for one of his other properties. She hasn't counted on the fact that Gervase didn't survive the war by being weak. He fights back with quiet dignity and a witty manner that wins Druscilla's heart as she attempts to rescue him from someone who may wish to kill him. Gervase, however, doesn't see any cause for alarm and he's quite taken with his beautiful neighbor, Marianne Bolderwood. Both Martin and Ger's friend, Lord Ulverston are both charmed by the pretty coquette and handle their infatuations quite differently. As Gervase and Martin clash over property, authority and ladies, Ger begins to think Martin may be trying to kill him after all and there may be more to the plain Miss Morville than her lack of good looks. This novel has everything to please Heyer's fans: excitement, mystery and romance. Though Gervase is quiet, he's no less dashing and charming than the Corinthians or Bucks. He's very bright and his witty sense of humor is sophisticated, funny and charming. My favorite character is Druscilla.  I adore her parents and wish I could know them and I like her for being practical and sensible. The rest of the characters are fairly stereotypical and the plot is classic Heyer. It's too bad everyone else copied her because the plot does feel a bit cliched but Heyer was such a great writer that she could plan red herrings and make things seem different from what they are. This is a great traditional Regency novel from the master of the genre!

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