I did not know until writing the end of this review that this was one of Heyer’s last novels; it was definitely her last romance. This novel was not the most exciting of Heyer’s, nor did it have the best characters, but it was one of the most introspective about romance and love. There wasn’t a lot of it, but the main protagonist did think and talk about it more than any other Heyer heroine I’ve read yet.
Annis Wynwood is an independently wealthy nine and twenty year old. Like a lot of ‘older’ Heyer heroines, she is clever, sensible and head strong. She has been living away from her family for about four years and likes it. When she receives an offer from a ‘rake’, she considers it:
It was easy enough to undersand why she should so often hate him; nearly impossible to know what it was in him that made her feel that if he were to go out of it her life would become blank. Trying to solve this mystery, she recalled that he had told her not to ask him why he loved her, because he didn’t know; and she wondered if that was the meaning of love: one might fall in love with beautiful face, but that was a fleeting emotion: something more was needed to inspired one with an enduring love, some mysterious force which forged a strong link between kindred spirits.
When she asks her intended if he is sure he wants to marry her and whether they will be happy, he replies
“Well, I can’t answer you. How can I be sure that we shall be happy when neither of us had any experience of marriage? All I can tell you is that I am perfectly sure I want to marry you, and equally sure you are not a ‘mere passing fancy’ of mine!”
I rather enjoyed these exchanges. I’ve experienced the first one and some people I know have. Not necessarily with a rakish person, but falling in love isn’t determined by one factor.
On a downside, there was not enough page time for the romantic male lead. I could have had more of them interacting like they did above. I was a tad indifferent to him until the final pages. Also, not much actually happened in this novel which isn’t what I expect from a Heyer novel. Sometimes, the couple are driven by other calamities and friends, but in this one, it was mostly centered on the main couple, but even then, mostly on Annis. The other characters seemed more superfluous than usual.
This Heyer novel was also notable also for its number of kisses described. Usually there is one or two embraces, but in this novel there were at least five. I like how you can clearly see the progression of Heyer’s writing from when she started in 1921 to this, her last romance book in 1972.
Read July 16-18th 2012.