Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: The Quiet Gentleman

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca Reissue May/June 2011, originally published 1951
ISBN: 9781402238833
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Originally posted at Burton Book Review, Rating:Faboulous Heyer Fun!
Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. And when he begins to fall for his half-brother's sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.
One of Heyer's most suspenseful Regency romances, The Quiet Gentleman combines an ingenious mystery plot with her signature witty style and effervescently engaging characters.

Although most of Heyer's romances seem to follow a formula of witty heroine vs the world who doesn't realize the direct path to everlasting love, The Quiet Gentleman sets itself apart. Focusing on Gervase Frant, the Seventh Earl of St Erth, the novel strays from the female point of view and even adds a bit of gothic and mysterious tones. Our hero, Gervase, returns to his (estranged) deceased father's estate after serving in the army to claim his inheritance, much to the dismay of his half-brother and stepmother who didn't actually think he'd survive Waterloo. Gervase is of the character where he could shrug off their dislike of him, but things get dicey when strange happenings occur that put Gervase in harm's way. Could his half-brother Martin really detest him so much as to wish that Gervase were dead? Is the step-mother the epitome of the evil witch? Or, is the house really haunted?

The romance comes in when Gervase meets Martin's love interest, Marianne, who is a beautiful and cheerful young lady with many admirers. Martin is quite protective of his invisible tie to her, and Gervase is a bit more dashing than Martin and an immediate rivalry occurs. Luckily, Gervase's cousin Theo is on Gervase's side and acts as a bit of a buffer between the brothers and is a trusted confidante of Gervase. And when Gervase's friend Lord Ulverston comes to stay, Martin earns another foe. Thrown into the mix was Miss Drusilla Morville, neutral friend and loyal companion to all (who could always be counted on to do the Dowager's tedious tasks).

It has been my previous experience with Heyer that her novels take a bit to get used to its jargon of Regency speak and a myriad of characters who normally take a bit of time to comprehend. With The Quiet Gentleman, there was not an immediate onslaught of unfamiliar names and we are taken right to the action after the opening description of the magnificent homestead of Stanyon, which is somewhat of a medieval fortress turned castle turned grand estate, which in itself becomes a bit of a character in the story.

I enjoy Heyer's writing because of the way she writes with class, and I love knowing that I will be entertained just because of a silly situation or a witty remark. I am not expecting a thrill-ride or something so extraordinary to knock my socks off; I simply appreciate the story and the setting. Heyer had such a clever mind and writing style, and she did it very well.  Heyer is similar to Austen and I often feel that Heyer is overshadowed by Austen, even though Heyer was so much more prolific. I have read ten Heyer's and one full Austen now, and I have not been disappointed with Heyer's romances and mysteries yet. I think I enjoyed this one most of all because of its slightly different formula. It is put in her romance genre, yet I enjoyed the mystery of it most of all. And the fact that it didn't focus on a woman and instead followed the gentleman (and then the women in his life) was a nice change of pace for me. For real Heyer and Austen fans, this one should not disappoint in the least.

Read an excerpt here. In honor of Georgette Heyer's 109th birthday, Sourcebooks is temporarily offering ALL 46 of Heyer's titles in e-book format at $1.99 each:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MS. HEYER!
eBooks Available for $1.99
Sale prices are only good August 15-August 21, 2011
Heyer’s Birthday: August 16, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer


Bath Tangle by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca reissue June 2011, originally published 1955
ISBN: 9781402238796
Review posted by Burton Book Review


A Delightful Tangle of Affairs…
The Earl of Spenborough had always been noted for his eccentricity. Leaving a widow younger than his own daughter Serena was one thing, but leaving his fortune to the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham – the one man the same daughter had jilted – was quite another.
When Serena and her lovely young stepmother Fanny decide to move to Bath, Serena makes an odd new friend and discovers an old love. Before long, they’re all entangled in a clutter of marriage and manners the likes of which even Regency Bath has rarely seen.

Bath Tangle is another one of Georgette Heyer's witty romances, and this one really had me laughing towards the end. Lady Serena is a willful young woman, destined to be a spinster, who now lives with her younger mother-in-law who has no idea how to reign in Serena's wild ways. Lord Rotherham has been named as a guardian of her inheritance, which really should not be of a huge concern except that he must also approve of whom Serena chooses to marry. This could become tangled due to the fact that there is some prior history between Lady Serena and Lord Rotherham where Serena backed out of their marriage negotiations at the last moment.

Serena is a wonderful character to read of, and she was the exact opposite of the ladylike of her sweet-natured mother-in-law, Fanny. After Serena's father's death, we wondered what exactly would happen to Serena, and how the arrangement between her and Rotherham would wreak havoc. Lo and behold, Serena becomes reacquainted with a previous suitor and they contrive to hide their relationship until the proper mourning period has passed. All this seems simple and straightforward, yet as only Georgette Heyer can divulge, Regency hijinks galore follows Serena everywhere she goes. Rotherham is left to wonder at her, as he obligingly lets her live her wild life, but poor Fanny is all in a flutter and Serena' betrothed doesn't know whether to be besotted or scornful.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the reader knows that Lady Serena is making another mistake by betrothing herself to Major Hector Kirkby. And there are more love tangles in Bath as Rotherham is engaged to a young lass who has no idea what she is getting herself into besides the idea of a coronet. As always, Bath Tangle contains a lot of witty remarks and colorful Regency dialogue with a bit of action at the end, making for a typical Georgette Heyer romance that demonstrates her clever prose with ease. For readers who are new to Heyer, they may not appreciate the prose at first, especially as this one started off hard to follow with many characters. It turns out that the story ended up following along with just a few of these initial characters and thus became easier to follow after a few more chapters. Moreover, it was a bit slow to reach any feverish pitch, so Bath Tangle would be best suited  for those already with an admiration for Georgette Heyer. This was my eighth Heyer novel, and I am still ready for more of Heyer's classy writing and charming Regency situations. I have enjoyed both her romances and her mysteries, and if you have enjoyed Jane Austen, you really need to discover Georgette Heyer as well.

Read an excerpt of Bath Tangle here and one from later in the book can be found here towards the 'product description'.