This was my first read by Georgette Heyer and I’m so glad to have found another excellent author who wrote in the Regency period!
Like all great Regency romances, this one was full of wit, character studies, and a strapping vocabulary. The quirky, strongly developed characters won the day, so it seems only fitting to include a summary of them in this review.
A Regency Character Summary:
Miss Venetia Lanyon: As our heroine, Venetia was a lovely focal point for the story. Having lived most of her life in seclusion, she managed to reach 25 years of age as an unmarried, well-mannered, and very attractive woman. She is also very lively and independently-minded, to the chagrin of almost everyone who knows her (save Damerel and Aubrey). Venetia is an open woman who speaks her mind plainly, leading to many hilarious conversations.
A delicately nurtured female (unless all the books lied) would have swooned from the shock of being kissed by a strange man, or at the very least would have been cast into the greatest affliction, her peace cut up, her spirits wholly overpowered. What she would not have done was to have stayed to bandy words with her wolfish assailant.
Lord Damerel: A 38 year old rake, Lord Damerel has lived quite a life and is often the topic of gossip. He finds a kindred spirit when he meets Venetia by chance, who, due to her personality and nontraditional upbringing, suits him perfectly. They soon become fast friends and confidants, against everyone’s advice and the “better judgement” of the ton.
Damerel, entering rudely on to the scene, instantly dominated it, and whether he was the villain or merely a minor character it was useless to deny that he had infused life into a dull play.
Aubrey Lanyon: Venetia’s younger brother, and closest friend for many years, Aubrey is full of book smarts and the impetuosity of a teenager. At 17 years old and with a disabled hip that causes a severe limp, he has spent most of his life studying. He lends frequent quips to the story, usually with the goal of shutting down some of the more ridiculous characters.
Edward Yardley: As one of the only men Venetia’s father allowed to enter the household, Edward feels he has an advantage at gaining her hand. Too bad for him that he is delusional, insulting, and contrary to Venetia’s character in almost every way. He was the “Mr. Collins” of this story, refusing to give up his perceived claim on Venetia, no matter how many times she rejected him.
“I daresay he won’t remain at the Priory above a day or two, but while he is here it will be best for you to discontinue your solitary walks,” Edward said, with a calm assumption of authority which she found so irritating that she was obliged to choke down a hasty retort. “You know,” he added, with a wry smile, “that I have never liked that custom of yours.”
Oswald Denny: The second of Venetia’s countryside suitors, Oswald is around 20 years old and fancies himself a Byron hero, all moody and dashing. Damerel is described as being everything that Oswald wishes to be, and the poor kid can’t handle the weight of his excessive jealousy.
Beyond these characters, there are a plethora of other meddling neighbors and family members, as well as horrifying in-laws. If you are an Austen fan, or a general fan of Regency period romances, I highly recommend this book!
PS – Thanks to the Kindle creators for the dictionary/Wikipedia lookup function, because I must have used it a couple dozen times for words like avuncular, raiment, and punctilious!