f you had told me a few years ago, at the height of my literary snoot, that I’d be reading a Regency romance and loving it I would have slapped you (and probably swooned onto the nearest chaise. I had regency in my blood even then).
And yet, here I am. Less tony, maybe, but much more DELIGHTED WITH LIFE.
So. Venetia is very beautiful but twenty-five and THEREFORE OLD, and has lived largely secluded with her stodgy old father (now deceased) and lame little brother whom she cannot leave to his own scholarly, incorrigible devices which is why she is beautiful and rich but unmarried. This is also maybe why she is incurably candid and impervious to compliments. And not like the Oh, I’m sooo not attractive with my bee-stung lips and flaxen curls etc, but in the Let’s not talk silly, meaningless nonsense when there are scandalous stories to be swapped! school, which I much prefer. Her head is, as they say, un-turnable.
Anywoot, Venetia is pursued by two gentlemen from the Big Box Of Suitable Suitors, but one is a melancholic puppy who styles himself as a Byronic hero, and the other is a proper, older man who is prone to giving improving speeches. Venetia is all, *sigh* I will not marry you guys, and the puppy is all I will win your love with heroic deeds and the older gentleman is all Well clearly you do not know your own mind so allow me to educate you on your actual opinions.
And then a rake moves in next door and is candid and rakish and with one thing and…ok no, really just the one thing, he and Venetia become fast friends. She is under no illusions about his rakishness and he is charmingly plain-spoken and their slow romance is LITERALLY ALL that happens for pages and it is excellent. Like, the only thing in my bowl right now is ice cream and I am not complaining because ICE CREAM. I could eat this for days, as it is liberally topped with banter.
You will go on no zany rides with this book, there will be no alien abductions or even stolen identities (though there is a delightful shocking twist near the end) and you will not mind, because you don’t read La Georgette to see if the couple hooks up. You read for the WIT. Everyone is either exceedingly clever or a foil for someone else to be exceedingly clever. At one point, Venetia’s older brother Conway’s new bride and mother-in-law show up unannounced to take over the family estate, which ultimately forces a vital plot development but MORE IMPORTANTLY allows for some handful of chapters of people being amusingly and politely scathing to each other.
And then it is the early 19th century, so people are always telling other people not to make absolute cakes of themselves, or that they are reckless freebooters, or that they find themselves in queer stirrups, and everyone sits down at midday for a nuncheon and this sort of thing might not get your lollercoaster rolling but it certainly does mine.
I think I say this every time I read a Heyer, but they are the beachiest of reads, highly embarrassing covers aside. Maybe wrap it in Freedom‘s dust jacket, if you are Me From Several Years Ago.