Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 1958 originally, reissued 2006, Harlequin
Category: Historical Romance
How much do I love Harlequin for rereleasing all these Georgette Heyers? I saw this one in the bookstore last week and pounced on it. MWAHAHA! More Heyer! I discovered her last year and went on a major binge. I've only found one dud, and the rest have all been delightful. And Venetia is one of the best yet!
Venetia Lanyon is 25 and still unmarried. She has lived a very isolated life in the country until the recent death of her reclusive father. Since that time she's been taking care of her younger brother and handling the management of their estate while her older brother is off enjoying himself in the military. One day when taking a walk, she meets Lord Damerel, a rake of infamous repute who owns a property nearby. He is taken with her beauty and does a little ravishing (just some kisses, this is Heyer after all). Venetia, of course, objects to the handling, but the two proceed to talk and tease each other and hit it off very well. Soon they become fast friends. But there are plenty of problems that must arise in the relationship of a green girl and a notorious rake.
How I loved these two characters. Venetia is very innocent, but she's never naive or silly. She isn't shocked by Damerel's past. And Damerel is just the right sort of rake--world-weary with plenty of mistakes in his past, but with a good heart. At one point Venetia is telling Damerel that she doesn't think he's so bad as people suspect:
"With what improbable virtues are you trying to endow me? An exquisite sensibility? Delicacy of principle?"The interaction between the two of them is brilliant. They are both so intelligent, and their conversations are a riot. I love that they become such good friends first. They have a real meeting of minds, and just "get" each other. They laugh together. Yes, they are passionate about each other too (actually this is probably the spiciest Heyer I've yet read) but what made this most romantic for me was the fact that they were so comfortable together. So ready to share their burdens and take care of one another.
"Oh no, nothing of that nature," she replied, getting up. "I allow you all the vices you choose to claim--indeed, I know you for a gamester, and a shocking rake, and a man of sadly unsteady character!--but I'm not so green that I don't recognize in you one virtue at least, and one quality."
"What, is that all? How disappointing! What are they?"
"A well-informed mind and a great deal of kindness," she said...
I do have to say that the action slows down a bit at the end and the conflict seemed just a little contrived. But I'm not complaining. Tiny problem compared with how much I enjoyed the book.
If you've never tried a Heyer, this would be a great one to start with. Don't be scared off by the slightly dense writing. (I noticed one paragraph that went for two full pages. No one writes that way anymore.) It goes down like butter! And her dialogue--ah, so fine.