This is one of the most popular Heyer books. I debated between 3 to 4 stars on GoodReads because while I think it is one of the most well written of her works, I found myself not particularly engrossed in parts.
My biggest issue was that there wasn’t enough of the main characters, particularly of the male lead Damerel. The relationship between the two protagonists begin very well. It develops into a lovely friendship and completely believable how they fall in love with another one. Then the lovebirds time gets cut short as obstacles get in there way.
The other issue was that there were many annoying, interfering characters. This aspect and the introspective nature of Venetia made the whole book very Austen-like in both the good and bad way.
There was something about the pacing of this book that was slower than the rest of Heyer’s books. I think it’s a lot like Lady of Quality which was one of Heyer’s books. Like that novel, the female protagonist is very well developed, clever, and independent. Also, like that novel, you only see the man in the denouement.
It is well written from a character stand point. It even hit a bit close to home. I really relate to those Heyer heroines in their mid twenties like Venetia. Like them, I think I have a romantic nature, but at the same time, there is a lot of sense shared between these characters and I. I don’t aspire too much in romance, and there is always and independent sort of zeal from many of her ‘spinister’ leads that I also share.
This novel has an additional twist that I didn’t really see coming. It was melodramatic (on the soap operatic end) which isn’t the usual for Heyer, but it worked. It was more of a minor plot device to move things forward. Still rather a nice little surprise.
All in all, I would say this one of the most well written of Heyer books, but it is not necessarily one of my favourites or the one I would reread first. Recommended if you like her stuff because this is a favourite for many of Heyer’s fans.
Read on my Kindle September 10-14th, 2012.