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.
Thank you for your review. I tried to by one of Georgette Heyer’s books, but got really confused with the number of them. I was unsure if some of them were series that needed to be read in order and didn’t know which one to grab. Can you suggest one that would get me off to a good start?
Hey Steph! Thank you for the comment as always. There are a lot of them! Most of the Regency/Georgian novels are not in a series; only one of them is a trilogy: These Old Shades, Devil’s Club and An Infamous Army all had the same set of characters. All the others are standalones and the characters do not go between them. If you have read most of my reviews, you will know that I tend to favour the later Heyer novels (those written in the 1950s onwards). Most readers will recommend you starting with the trilogy mentioned above which gives you an idea on how over the top and crazy her character and plots can be. I also really favour The Grand Sophy for fun; it’s a good standalone and one of the best of Heyer’s heroines. For something more serious, try The Civil Contract. For more Heyer reviews, go to the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge to pick and see which are the most popular and the ones you may like the best. I hope you like reading the books! I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Have a good week.
Yippie! Thank you taking the time to write such a helpful reply. I am going to go for The Grand Sophie. Your suggestion could not be more timely. After reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, and before that, Madame Bovary by Flaubert and The Stand by Steven King, I am ready for some fun.
Thank you for including the link to the challenge.
You’re welcome, and it’s a pleasure to interact with you. I’ve been reading Heyer between classics too to lighten my mind in a way. The books and characters are so easy to get into and one doesn’t need to think or ponder as much. Happy reading!