Title: Faro's Daughter
Author: Georgette Heyer
Published: 1941, Dutton
Category: Historical Romance
I'm still making my way through Heyer's Regencies. Because I love them so.
Max Ravenscar, a wealthy gentleman, is called upon by his frantic aunt to disengage her son, Lord Mablethorpe, from an infatuation with "a creature -- oh, a hussy! -- out of a gaming-house!" Miss Deborah Grantham lives with her aunt, whose reduced circumstances have forced them to open her house for card parties and gaming. Though Deb's money troubles are bad, she has no intention of actually marrying Lord Mablethorpe, because he is too young and silly. But when Max tries to buy her off from the supposed engagement, she's totally insulted and decides to teach him a lesson.
I think this is one of my favorite Heyers! It's not actually very romance-ish -- the hero and heroine spend most of the novel fighting with each other. Deb is one of Heyer's older, wiser heroines; she's really feisty, has a terrific temper, and wants more than anything to get the better of Max. "It was not long before a scheme, so dazzlingly diabolical as almost to take her breath away, was born in her mind." Both she and Max are horribly stubborn, and they go to some rather ridiculous extremes to best each other, which makes for some great hijinks.
So definitely not in any way a treacly romance. Deb says to Max, "You are rude, and stupid, and I was never so plagued by anyone in my life!" But their similarities of character do make it believable that they should fall in love. I loved the book for its snappy dialogue and funny situations.