Saturday, July 4, 2009
Omg, Devil's Cub was so awesome. Quite unwittingly I had built up high expectations and, though there were some doubts at the start, boy did it turn out wonderful.
He was so frightening! And bloodthirsty! And frightening! Drunken, violent, cruel, reckless, immoral, misogynistic Bad Man! My brow was crinkled for much of the first half, wondering how Heyer was going to redeem this quite alarming man and render him sympathetic and beloved to me, wondering if she could.
Omg Heyer, allow me to bow down.
And my hope/suspicion was borne out quite beautifully cos from the moment our heroine did a certain thing, our hero became human and all the more considerate. I was totally hanging out to hear him confess that that was precisely the moment he fell in love with her but unfortunately that didn't happen.
He did declare himself in the most deliciously fervent terms at the end and oh, had me beaming ear to ear in the middle of court. Nothing like a romance wonderfully realised.
Our heroine was an interesting character from a writer point of view. Cos she was introduced with a lot of promise, the word 'bluestocking' even was used which got the reader me all excited, and she was quietly sarcastic to her absolutely appalling mother. Then I was fairly disappointed to see her behave with such primness and propriety for a good long while. But every now and then she would do the most brazen defiant thing that had me gasping with admiration and privately cheering her on. So it was a very odd mix of demure but defiant and I'm still not entirely sure I approve or like her very much.
But certainly she was the exact sort of personality to calm him down and handle him, which she pretty much admits. It was very much the way Jane manages Rochester in the early days and you could look at her behaviour as passive aggressive manipulation but oh it was too much fun to watch him be tamed. No greater joy in the romance reading experience.
Could have done without the exposition of the previous book but it was pretty awesome to see most of those characters and see how they've changed and stayed the same. I did think that perhaps Heyer hadn't quite mastered the hilarity of the verbal misunderstandings yet cos they were a bit too messy, not quite as deftly handled as in the later books I've read, and went for a little longer than absolutely necessary.
But ahahahahaha, awesome plot and fabulous complications and an excellent amount of characters driving their own plots, all intersecting, overlapping, tripping over each other and finally resolving with the most breathtaking elegance. I mean, damn, Heyer!
I particularly adored how she had our most deliciously dangerous Duke appear near the start of the novel and then not reappear until the very end when everything seemed hopeless. It was too too marvellous, that moment we recognise him when our heroine has never met him before. A cheer went up in my head.
Really Heyer managed the taming of her devil's cub to perfecton. Cos not only was what she did necessary but then to have what he did at the end was exactly what we needed in order to know he would never again be so violent and bloodthirsty even if it is to claim her. I was convinced, anyway.
And hee, the lovely weariness of Mr Fox and the unchanged boyish exclamations of Rupert and the ramblings of Fanny ... so excellent to have them all colour in the humour of Heyer. I wonder exactly how many years come between the writing of this and These Old Shades. I assumed they came directly after but no, this was written in '32 and that was in the Twenties, wasn't it? Intreeeguing. I should look it up now but I can't be arsed.
*** This is a relatively spoiler free version of my original review ... here it is in all its spoilery glory. Consider yourself warned. :p