Friday, June 25, 2010

Black Sheep


Black Sheep. Georgette Heyer. 1966/2008. Sourcebooks. 280 pages.

A little before eight o'clock, at the close of a damp autumn day, a post-chaise entered Bath, on the London Road, and presently drew up outside a house in Sydney Place.

Abigail (Abby) Wendover and Selena Wendover are the two aunts responsible for raising their young niece, Fanny, a young lady who is just getting ready to come out in society. When the novel opens, Abby has just returned to Bath from visiting some of her brothers and sisters. So she has missed the early stages of Fanny's young love. Fanny has fallen in forever-and-ever love with Stacy Calverleigh, a man with a bit of a reputation.

While no one can deny that he comes from a good family, it's also undeniable that since Stacy has come of age, the family's financial standing has continued to fall. He desperately needs to marry money if he's going to "save" the family home and keep up appearances--living a certain lifestyle.

Fanny may be young, but she'll inherit a great deal of money when she comes of age. Enough to tempt young Calverleigh. That's how Abby and her brother, James, see it anyway. Selena, well, she's easily charmed. And Stacy has a way of making her think the best of him. Abby fears that Stacy may convince Fanny to elope with him.

Soon after Abby returns home, Miles Calverleigh arrives. He's the "black sheep" of the Calverleigh family. (He's been in India for years.) He has come to Bath quite unaware that his nephew, Stacy, has been there.

Can Abby convince Miles to intervene? Will Miles see his young nephew's affair as being any of his concern? After all, he has never met the boy.

What starts out as "concern" for Fanny and Stacy, develops into something more--much much more. Has Abby found love at last? Will her sister, Selena, let Abby go?

I loved this one. I did. I loved Abby. I loved Miles. I loved the way these two clicked right from the start. I loved the banter the two share. I loved the way that neither really denies the attraction. How Abby doesn't necessarily fight the attraction she feels for Miles. She likes spending time with him. She likes his company. And she isn't one of those to say, well, what will the neighbors think. (Now, Abby, does care a little about what her family thinks.) Miles is unlike so many of the other men that Abby has known. But she likes him just the way he is. I loved how these two accept one another as is. These two are oh-so-compatible.

I would definitely recommend Black Sheep.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sylvester


Sylvester: Or the Wicked Uncle. Georgette Heyer. 1957/2009. Harlequin. 368 pages.

and

Sylvester: Or the Wicked Uncle. Georgette Heyer. Read by Richard Armitage. Naxos Audio Books. 4 hours and 51 minutes.

Sylvester stood in the window of his breakfast parlour, leaning his hands on the ledge, and gazing out upon a fair prospect.

I loved this one. I loved, loved, loved it. Of course, I expected to love it. It is Georgette Heyer after all. So what is this historical romance about? It's about the sometimes-arrogant Duke of Salford. Sylvester Raynes. When the novel opens, Sylvester is having a cozy little chat with his mother. Telling her how he feels it's time to get married. He has certain things he is looking for in a wife. And he's got five women on his list that might just do. Unfortunately, love and romance don't enter into it, for him. His mother does set him right on that account at least:

'Thank you, I have heard enough to be able to give you my advice!' interrupted his mother. 'Don't make an offer for any one of them! You are not in love!'
'In love! No, of course I am not. Is that so necessary?
'Most necessary, my dear! Don't, I beg you, offer marriage where you can't offer love as well!' (13)
Sylvester then goes to see his godmother. Maybe her advice will be more useful, more practical than his mother's.
'Now, if you were only a fairy godmother, ma'am, you would wave your wand, and so conjure up exactly the bride I want!' (31)
She can't wave her wand, but she can send him to meet her granddaughter, Phoebe Marlow. The way she phrases this suggestion irritates him, still, he is in need of a wife. And she might just do after all. He had teased his mother earlier saying,
'What could be more romantic than to marry the girl who was betrothed to me in her cradle?' (22)
So off he goes to meet Miss Marlow. But his mother was right to suspect that it might not be that easy. That the girl might need to be wooed. That her son shouldn't assume that any woman would swoon and say yes to his proposal.
'My dear, has it not occurred to you that you might find yourself rebuffed?'
His brow cleared. 'Is that all? No, no, Mama, I shan't be rebuffed!'
'So sure, Sylvester?'
'Of course I'm sure, Mama! Oh, not of Miss Marlow! For anything I know, her affections may be engaged already.'
'Or she might take you in dislike,' suggested the Duchess.
'Take me in dislike? Why should she?' he asked, surprised. (22)
That conversation ends with him boasting, "Well, Mama, you said yourself that I make love charmingly!" and "I'm not hard to swallow, you know."

So who is Phoebe Marlow? She's a young woman who doesn't welcome the idea of Duke Salford coming to offer for her. The two met very briefly in London--so briefly that Sylvester doesn't even remember--and her first impression of him wasn't the greatest. In fact, Sylvester's eyebrows inspired her to write him into the novel she was writing. As the villain, Count Ugolino. (Many of her characters were inspired by people she met during her London season.) So to learn that this man is on his way to see her, to ask her to marry him, is a bit of a shock. To make matters worse, her novel is to be published! Does Sylvester read many novels? Will he recognize himself? What's she to do? Is there a way she can escape this awkward predicament? But of course! But it's not without its risk!

Sylvester and Phoebe challenge one another. And the tension between the two is just about perfect. If you like that sort of romance--think Beatrice and Benedick, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, and Margaret Hale and John Thornton. Sylvester is all about overcoming BAD first impressions.

I love Heyer. I love her style. I love her wit. I love her characters. And there are so many characters to love in Sylvester. If you haven't read her before, you might consider starting with Sylvester.

The audio book. I have nothing but good to say about Naxos' production of Sylvester. It is narrated by Richard Armitage. And he does such a wonderful job with it! He brings the characters--both male and female--to life. It was easy for me to follow the story--to know who was speaking at any given time. (That's not always easy to do with just one narrator.) There is just enough drama to keep it lively. It is abridged. But there is still so much to love! I would definitely recommend this one! (And in case you're curious, you can find it on audible.com).

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cotillion

Cotillion Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book I have been wanting to read for awhile. It seems to be a favorite for Georgette Heyer fans and now I can see why!

As is typical for me with Regency novels, this started out slow. There always seems to be a learning curve while I move myself back in time, figure out who the characters are and what their titles mean, and adjust my head to the antiquated language and slang. But by the end I was turning pages so fast and I had to force myself to go to bed. I couldn't wait to see how it all ended and I was not disappointed.

Kitty Charing is the ward of a grouchy old man who has decided that she will inherit his fortune if she chooses one of his great-grandnephews to marry. Kitty is horrified by the proposal and is desperate to get away to London so she can figure out what to do with her life. But in order to do so, she convinces Freddy Standen (one of the nephews) to agree to a sham engagement. While in London, Kitty is exposed to a world of fashion, frivolity, and nobles behaving badly. She makes new friends and finds old family, but everyone seems to want something that they can't have. As the heroine, Kitty tries to set it all to rights, and in the process she figures out her own heart as well.

This was my in-person's book club pick for this month. While I certainly enjoyed reading it, I don't really think it's a book that will generate a lot of discussion. Still, I'm happy that I got an excuse to move it up my TBR list. I definitely recommend this one.