Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Moth

The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.

Prologue: Clad in his customary black and silver, with raven hair unpowdered and elaborately dressed, diamonds on his fingers and in his cravet, Hugh Tracy Clare Belmanoir, Duke of Andover, sat at the escritoire in the library of his town house, writing.

Chapter one: Chadber was the name of the host, florid of countenance, portly of person, and of manner pompous and urbane.

Loved this one. I had my doubts--I'm not sure why--but I ended up just loving it. Why did I have doubts? Well, for some reason I thought that since this was Georgette Heyer's first novel it would perhaps be clumsy or awkward. Not quite as good as the others that I've come to love. Is it her best work? Probably not. But it's good. It's fun. It's fun in a dashing kind of way.

The characters. So many to love, so many to love to hate. Jack Carstares, Earl of Wyndam, our proper hero. Richard, his younger brother with a secret. Lavinia, Richard's wife, the woman I ended up loving to hate! Tracy, Lavinia's "devil" of a brother who thinks kidnapping is the way to get your heart's desire. Diane, the lovely woman adored by two men--one a highwayman, one a kidnapper. Miles, a good friend who has always believed in his friend no matter what. And so many more!

The writing. So much to love. It's detailed, but not in a heavy way. More in a witty kind of way. Take this description of Lavinia, "She was ever thus -- not two minutes the same." For those readers who mind the details, you'll find much to appreciate! I found it richly detailed and the world depicted by Heyer was just fascinating.

This book is loosely connected with These Old Shades.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Devil's Cub

His excesses had banished him from the country yet he could not put her away from his mind. What could he do but take her for his companion. It all lay in the hands of the leading lady to devise a plan to preclude an abduction that could ruin the repute of her injudicious sister. But her obligation doesn’t cease with this. She also takes on the mission of taming the male shrew and managing him.

If only he were real and all mine......

Dominique, the marquis of Vidal accredited for his scandalous reputation as a rake disgraces the family with yet another brawl. Of all the allegations, his new uproar had the effect of producing an ill fate to his name. Accordingly his parents ship him off to France, rather than confronting the ramification if he is anywhere in the vicinity. But his journey would be fragmentary without any distractions, he convinces Sophia to accompany him. Fortunately for Sophia, Mary intercepts his plan and goes instead regardless of what turn would Dominique’s fury take. Desperate as she may be, her fortitude never once fail her, she shoots at him with a pistol.
Vidal, who had never expected even a speck of virtue in any of his indulgences , offers for marriage in vain to silence the scandal that would arise therewith. Mary refuses the offer as she is absolutely aware that the intention is purely circumstantial and there being no foundation for love; even though she is in greatly in love with him. The shot having made its effect defers their departure by a few days in the course of which he becomes extremely cordial; as soon as he appreciates her insidiousness he forms an attachment for her. 

A way out this dilemma presents in form of her friend Juliana. She elopes with Comyn, Juliana’s heart broken lover, and a man of undeniable verbal skills. Vidal, by the time so deep in love with Mary, repairs to Dijon at once to conciliate with her. Their wedding receives approbation from everyone except Leonie. Mary leaves in search of a respectable position. But her being unescorted lays her in the open to an excess of disrespect.

At this precise moment, she stumbles upon a gentleman in whom she discerns a familiarity, pours her desolation into him. Vidal who had followed her into the inn is equally shocked to see his father (Avon) beside Mary.

Her tenacity and intrepidity prepares her for all the personal risks involved and only the selfless Mary could commit herself to this task. She remains perspicacious all through the story exhibiting prudence at stopping a duel by pouring water over the combatants and also running a thick cloth through the swords. Her profound knowledge and perceptivity empowers her role in the plot and proves beyond doubt the she is the predilection for Vidal.

Dominique captivates every heart by being a crack shot, a notable whip and a gamester and his performance is at its best even when he is disguised; although his being a little callous casts a shadow on his perfections. He is as nonchalant as his mother before and there is a want of acuity in most of the affairs.
There is no scrape in which his ire has not publicly landed him in trouble. It is also Avon’s smartness that pulls him out of his recent blunder. His behavior is that of a 4 year old than a 24yr old and the need to tame him becomes apparent inasmuch as the job becomes Mary. Electrified by her charm, Vidal falls in love with her intensely enough to make his existence empty without her.

The appearance of Leonie, Avon and Rupert enliven the picture with old memories. Passing years has reduced Avon’s balefulness by no more than alleviating his rakishness. The relationship between the father and son is again so mysterious, yet a thorough understanding is there between them; every conversation has its irony.

Devil’s cub is an impelling paperback with outstanding blend of persona intermingled with humor and romance in favor of irrefutable magnetism towards its fans.

These Old Shades

“Desolation might make a man fiendish” applies to the count when he makes life for both himself and his family all the more miserable and the mere contemplation that his only daughter is in employment with the duke whom he had reviled all his life is beyond forbearance. If death could only placate the public disgrace… 
The first in the series of the Alastair trilogy is the taster of romance, comedy, action and adventure encompassed in one course. TOS is a picture perfect comedy set against the backdrop of pre-regency and post-Jacobite rebellion. The entr’acte of the story spectacles with Leonie dissembling as Justin’s (Avon) page, giving an opportunity for Avon to reprise his arch enemy, the comte de saint vire. It is unbeknownst to the world that comte is Leonie’s father and on unearthing this singularly significant information, Justin manipulates a strategy that would result in the acquaintance of the truth with the society and also right Leonie in the eyes of the world.
Sinsyne, from a page she ameliorates to a position of a ward where she gets launched into the society with a great deal of success. In the mean while, the Comte taking desperate attempts in shielding the truth, in one situation, intimidates Leonie to a situation accentuating debase and infamy; that in cognizance of which she is driven to the folly of leaving the duke’s shelter. This being rendered fallow, his predicament leaves him with no option but to kidnap her. Nevertheless, Leonie’s intellect should not be underestimated; no sooner than being said she slips out of his hold and returns to her monsignor. The Comte envisages a stiff counter in Avon who has expedited obtaining of the proof than the former had expected. A society gathering is what Avon needs to hyperventilate the already disheveled Comte constraining him to shoot himself at the countess’s outburst of the truth. Leonie is righted, but the only missing piece in the wholesome happiness is her fallacy to have fallen below Avon’s standards; in the belief of their union being unbefitting ,her confusion is only momentary to last long, ends in their nuptials.
TOS is a hilarious and a preeminent fiction portraying the best of the hero and heroine along with a laudable supporting cast. Justin (aka devil, as Tracy Belmonair  from TBM) essays the role of an outlandish hero with a shady past and an evil smirched reputation (satanas); whose thoughts and principles are practically outside the comprehensions and capability of any normal person. From the start till the end he remains to be on dictating terms, unfathomable and versatile and acts a sculpture lacking emotion and expression. He is quite composed until he sets eyes on Leonie, his complete opposite. The counterpart of Avon, she is quick-tempered, pertinacious, and unruly and to top it, tongue lashing, but the way she twists Avon around her little finger, as Rupert puts it, is pretty on her part. She has a childlike reverence for Avon that purges him of all his flagitiousness. She seems to be the one person Justin would die to please, love and laugh with. Thus the notorious rake redeems in the passionate love making of Leonie. Their love is quite subtle while it expels his one time fascination for Jennifer (Diana Beuleigh). 
The incorrigible Rupert (Andrew), the fussy Fanny (Lavinia) and the convivial Merrivales ( supposedly to be jack carstares of TBM) who assist in the plan also add to the story though the best is the Comte who is bad enough to swap his daughter for the sake of the title and his death serves the good purpose of restoring what he impounded from her. His mania for title mists up his vision over the honorable where it shatters his whole family for nothing. His conscience suffers no pang over the unjustifiable sin he had committed and he isn’t anxious to reconcile Leonie even during the last few minutes before he chooses death. Sardonically, it is ignominy and not remorse that drives him to such measures. 
TOS is purported to be the resurrection of TBM from the villain's part. The characters of her first novel reappear under different names and enchant us with more humor. Tracy (Justin in TOS), duc of andover falls in love with Diana Beuleigh (jennifer), but is unsuccessful in winning her heart which is already lost to jack. 
In an attempt to force her hand, he kidnaps her from under Jack’s(lover of Diana, merrivale in TOS) nose.This gives a likely explanation for the unspoken understanding between jenny and Avon in TOS. He knows he has lost her to jack/merrivale, but not until he meets the titian hair beauty(leonie) that he realizes he is not entirely vanished in fate. I especially like Heyer's concern in setting up Tracy in some way or another so that victory appears on both sides.  By bringing Leonie, she has brought life not only to tracy/avon but also to those who deeply felt for Tracy's ill fortune (like I did).
TOS is one of my evergreen favorites as no one but Heyer could cook up a story as sweet and exciting as this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Devil's Cub

A young nobleman sprawls nonchalantly inside his coach, despite the dangerously fast pace at which it is traveling. When highwaymen hold up the coach, his demeanor does not change. Without a second thought, he pulls the trigger of the small pistol in his pocket, blowing a hole through both his coat and an unfortunate robber's head. In a bored voice, he commands his coachman to drive on, leaving the body in the road.

With this opening scene, Georgette Heyer tells the reader all they need to know of Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal. He is cold-blooded, reckless and quite dangerous. However, the frivolous beauty Sophia Challoner and her greedy mother do not recognize this. Both imagine Sophia can behave scandalously with the marquis and eventually force him to propose marriage.

Only Mary, Sophia's sensible sister, recognizes who would come out the worse from such an encounter. When she intercepts Vidal's note instructing Sophia to meet him late one night so they can run away together, Mary decides to disguise herself and take her sister's place. She imagines the marquis will let her return home once he discovers the deception and will think twice about approaching Sophia again.

What Mary does not realize is Vidal has been sent into exile by his father after nearly killing a man in a duel. Vidal intends to go to Paris, where he plans to make Sophia his mistress. When he finds Mary in his coach, he imagines she has the same loose morals as her sister and forces her onto the boat instead.

So begins another delightful romp by the incomparable Ms. Heyer, featuring a deliciously tangled plot filled with romantic misunderstandings, in which true love wins out over all.

Vidal soon realizes the practical, resourceful Mary is no lightskirt but a lady of quality. Chagrined (for he does not make a habit of abducting virtuous women) he offers her marriage as a way of salvaging her reputation. To his shock, she refuses. He cannot help but grow intrigued by this unusual miss who seems to know just how to manage him. Before long, he's desperate to wed her, not out of duty, but for love.

Mary, meanwhile, resists Vidal at every turn despite her growing affection for him. She believes the marquis's family will never accept a lowly gentleman's granddaughter as a spouse for their son. While staying in Paris with Vidal's cousin, Juliana, Mary becomes involved in the relationship between the flighty girl and her sober, correct suitor, Mr. Comyn. The different romantic plotlines become hopelessly entangled, and Heyer once again shows how deftly she can get her characters into trouble, then get them out again.

Yes, Heyer charmed me with another witty, wonderful tale. I wasn't sure she would be able to redeem the marquis, who if anything was even more wicked than his father, the Duke of Avon (introduced in These Old Shades). But by subtle degrees, she showed he did, indeed, have a heart. I greatly enjoyed becoming reacquainted with several characters who played key roles in These Old Shades, including the Duke of Avon, still head-over-heels for his lovable wife, the Duke's mischievous brother, Rupert, and of course, the irrepressible Leonie, Duchess of Avon.

My grade: A.

False Colours

Due to the extravagancies of the mother, one of the rakish twins disappears with an engagement ahead and the other twin has to masquerade for the sake of avoiding any scandal. Their uncle has set a condition that if Evelyn gets married, he can come by his inheritance and manage business. This leaves Christopher fancot, the smart diplomat to impersonate his brother at the party given by Cressida stavely. However relieved kit felt, the arrival of Cressida’s grandmother flusters him. Without any idea,Kit falls deeply in love with Cressida and makes known his intentions. the smooth sail faces distortion when Evelyn reappears with a sling and an infatuation. In the meantime, their mother submerged to the neck in debts consents to marry her longtime lover, the rich baron Bonamy. Cressida’s grandmother mortified by the deceit negates the alliance to kit. The insidious kit is left with the duty to contrive a plan to avoid any scandal.
I loved Cressida so much. She is very like jenny chawleigh in the Contract. Cressy is a dependable and a responsible preference for kit. The impersonation was the finest. The only defect in the writing was that of the puzzling climax. I was at loss to understand the climax.

Monday, February 15, 2010


"If poetry be the food for love” a passionate love between two contrasting estates of an affluent girl and that of a pauper prince. Amidst the honeyed phrases and the trickling dulcet, one loses oneself in a reverie redolent of happiness and pleasure.

Venetia is a dulcet strewn regency romance taking readers into the world of aria and canto, a gentle love blossoming between a simpleton and a poetical rake. Beautiful Venetia has known to a great extent less of the outer world. Her dress gets caught to the shrubbery only to be rescued by the estate’s handsome owner and when Damarel saves the invalid Aubrey, the acquaintance grows into gentle love growing more with  every day. The improvised appearance of Conway’s wife deprives her of the powers that once she had, concomitantly divert her onto getting launched which her aunt benignly volunteers to proffer. Damarel resolute to comply with Venetia’s idea of marriage persuades her to venture forth into the city pleading on the grounds of his scandalous repute to besmirch her unsullied one.
Venetia finds city life disagreeable though the fashionable circles are a treat, her longing to be at the priory possesses her. Her spirits rises when she meets her mother after a long time and she explains of her predicament that deterred in her marrying Damarel. She leaves for the priory pursued by her uncle reasoning with her in vain the encumbrances of the proposed nuptial. Much to the displeasure of the family as they must unequivocally be, at the matrimonial options with a rake, the estranged lovers reunite in expectation of a protracted bliss ahead. 
Venetia is special in every aspect pervading over an incomparable language. The love is insinuated softly into the theme. Unlike other Heyer leading ladies, Venetia is sensible, sweet and is not a whit hair brained. She is not one of those wide eyed water fountains ever plaguing, but a vivid and smart one.
Damarel and Venetia share their fame equally though Damarel’s part is the best. Conscious of Aurelia’s repute, he buries his love only to have Venetia contract a better marriage. Heyer has composed such an atypical novel. Damarel’s introduction begins with tales of his notoriety as a rake, but all the while he behaves like a scholarly gentleman of colossal wisdom and there could be no point at which he gives the impression of being deplorable. Heyer turns our attention towards liking Damarel where she transforms him into the one person any lady would die to possess for herself in the face of his past repute. Venetia is new-fangled as to its divergence from the usual plots. 
 It was a flow of aria, a trickle of poetry, a soft descend of romance that whispered Venetia is the chimera of a dream.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book Review: The Masqueraders

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks reissue, December 2009; originally published 1928
Product ISBN: 9781402219504
Price: $13.99
Review Copy provided by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 Stars

Such a daring escape…

Their infamous adventurer father has taught Prudence Tremaine and her brother Robin to be masters of disguise. Ending up on the wrong side of the Jacobite rebellion, brother and sister flee to London, Prudence pretending to be a dashing young buck, and Robin a lovely young lady.

Could cost them both their hearts…
Then Prudence meets the elegant Sir Anthony Fanshawe, and Robin becomes the mysterious hero of the charming Letitia Grayson, and in order to have what they truly want, the two masqueraders must find a way to unmask themselves without losing their lives…

I must confess.. this novel took me awhile to endear itself to me. More than half of the book I was scratching my head trying to figure out the main POINT to the masquerading. A boy and a girl.. masquerading as opposite genders and I just couldn't fathom why. Sure, I knew the dad was in a heap of trouble.. they were in hiding.. and were used to this stuff and were having fun pulling the wool over every one's eyes. A Jacobite rebellion, they were on the wrong side, and needed to have other identities. But for some reason I had thought they were masquerading as each other, and that doesn't make much sense does it? And then a host of male characters coming and going and I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. So then I google for reviews, and imagine my horror and astonishment that others are touting this as their favorite Heyer! What in goodness's name was WRONG with me?

Alas.. I happened upon this one single review and the light bulb goes off (thank you!). The background fills in, I understand and the picture of typical hilarious Heyer hijinx is revealed to me. I am so utterly thick sometimes I wonder where my brain is. Ok, so all of that behind of me.. where does this leave the book with me in the long run?

No, not another five star read.. how could it with that unfathomable beginning? But I am grateful that I did continue on, because the ambitiousness of this story is really imaginative. It is full of rough and tumble scenes, particularly with Prudence who is masquerading as a Mr. Peter Merriot, who is quick on her/his feet with a sword. Her brother, a sprightly little man called Robin, is masquerading as a Miss Kate Merriot is silly as he flirts with Prudence's admirer...then he goes even further incognito and becomes a man again but must wear a mask so that he is only known as the Black Domino.. So fun that people walked around with swords on their hips back in the day. Hence.. the aptitude for duels, and there are quite a few here. We also have incorrigible characters who are also card players, another fun past time of the day.. and then the romances are noteworthy of course, especially with the whole cross-gendering thing.

There are quite a few charming and fascinating themes in this story, with fun little inside-style type jokes that made me grin. I was charmed by the calling of their father "The Old Gentleman" (who is so totally completely over the top full of himself); and the romance interest of Prudence, Sir Anthony Fanshawe was affectionately known as "The Mountain" were silly names but so fitting; themes of blackmail saves the day once again..masqueraders that get in further and further with no hope of escaping suspicion.

The scrapes and twisting plots are really intriguing and reach a fun climax towards the end, and I am very glad to have continued through with this Georgian historical romance. I do understand where those slightly more intelligent than I have chosen this one as their favorite. So far, that is still Arabella for me. For those who are just beginning on their Georgette Heyer journey, I beg of you to not choose this one. There are 50 more of her works that will probably suck you in a lot more quicker than this one will, and who wants to start with one that could leave a bad taste in their mouth? Because I assure you, Heyer is certainly worth your time, and after you have about 7 or 8 under your belt you should be ready for the absolute ingenious quality of The Masqueraders.

See my other Georgette Heyer posts here or here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Masqueraders

The Masqueraders
Cross-posted from Library Queue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my fourth Georgette Heyer book and I seem to be enjoying them more and more. This one is definitely different from the other books I've read by her. This book isn't set in the Regency period, but rather earlier in the Georgian era. It is just after the 1745 Jacobite Rising (of which I ashamedly knew nothing about) when a brother and sister appear on the scene in London. They appear to be high society, but no one can say for sure who they are or where they come from. 

The couple are in fact brother and sister. However, they are escaped Jacobites and they are also cross-dressers. They both fall in love while trying to keep their true identities secret to protect themselves. When their father comes to town acting as a viscount, even Prudence and Robin (AKA Peter and Kate Merriot) can't figure out what the truth is anymore.

The book has romance, mystery, comedy, duels and even a murder. I was heartily confused at the beginning of the book as the characters and their assumed identities are introduced. But once I figured out who was who, this was great fun.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Black Moth

This review is cross-posted from BookLust.

The Black Moth is Georgette Heyer's first novel, written while she was a teenager.  She uses updated versions of some of the characters in her more popular novel These Old Shades (which is where the title These Old Shades comes from).  In mid-1700s in England, an earl has passed away, and his eldest son must be found to impart the news.  The son, Jack Carstares, however, was disgraced six years ago when he accepted blame that should have been his younger brother's for cheating at cards.  After years abroad, John is now "working" as a highwayman in Surrey.  His younger brother Richard has aged unnaturally since the cheating incident and is married to a temperamental beauty who is likely to bankrupt him and possibly leave him for another man.

And then there is the dangerous and enigmatic Duke of Andover (known as "the Devil") who is pulling all the strings (particularly those attached to the purse).  He falls so deeply in love with the lovely young Diana Beauleigh that he attempts a kidnapping, only to be foiled by Jack Carstares.  This sets off a chain of events that changes everyone's lives in dramatic (and thoroughly entertaining) ways until everyone is sorted out and settled to live happily ever after.