Death in the Stocks- A man is found dead, locked in the stocks on a village green. It turns out he was a jerk and just about everyone he knew had motive to kill him. Georgette Heyer’s mysteries aren’t as intricately plotted as Agatha Christie’s, nor are her characters as well-drawn as Dorothy L. Sayers’s, but I still find them enjoyable. They have the same comedic, charming quality as her Regencies. This one was no exception- very light-hearted and funny, despite being about a murder. The victim’s younger half-siblings and their whacky antics in this were hilarious. It’s not something to turn to if you’re looking for deep and meaningful material, but it’s still a fun book. My Rating: 8/10
These Old Shades- This is one of her earliest works, set in the Georgian era. It’s a reworking of a lot of the characters from The Black Moth, which she wrote as a teen. The title refers to the characters being “shades” from that book.The hero in this book, Justin Alistair, the Duke of Avon, is a reworking of the villain from The Black Moth, a “bad” man past forty. The heroine, Leonie, is a nineteen year old girl who has lived as a boy since she was twelve. I was pleasantly surprised by this book because, frankly, my expectations were very low. The age difference was a bit squicky but I still found it amusing and fun. My Rating: 7/10
Devil’s Cub-This is actually a sequel of sorts to These Old Shades, dealing with Leonie and Justin’s son, Dominic, the Marquis of Vidal, a man even wilder than his father had been. Vidal is sent to France to avoid scandal after killing a man in a duel. He is determined to take Sophia Challoner, a girl he’s infatuated with, along to be his mistress. Mary Challoner, determined to save her sister from ruin, goes in Sophia’s place to try to trick Vidal, but he makes her go. I actually liked this book in the beginning, but it quickly went downhill for me. Vidal’s taking Mary because any slut would do for him and then repenting once she shot him and he realized she was actually respectable actually didn’t bother me that much because it’s not meant to be taken seriously. But I never bought into the romance. The characters didn’t even interact enough for me to buy their falling in love. And seriously, how terrible were Leonie and Justin as parents if their son ends up even worse than Justin was??? My Rating: 6/10
The latest Georgette Heyer books I’ve read have thankfully all been good!
The Toll Gate- This one follows retired Captain John “Jack” Staple as he leaves a boring family party and stumbles upon a mystery- a boy running a toll gate by himself because his father is missing. He can’t leave things as they are and decides to stay and man the gate. He falls in love with Nell Stornaway, granddaughter of the impoverished local squire- whose family is involved in the mystery. I loved this one! It’s one of Heyer’s few Regency romance/mystery combinations and they’ve all been winners for me. I loved Jack and Nell, along with the side characters. My rating: 10/10
Friday’s Child- Anthony Verelst, Viscount Sheringham (“Sherry”) is annoyed that he will not have control of his inheritance until he turns 25, unless he gets married. He says he will marry the next girl he sees, who happens to be his childhood friend, Hero (“Kitten”). Hero is actually in love with Sherry but he doesn’t know this and the two get married. Wacky hijinks ensue. After The Convenient Marriage and April Lady, my expectations for this were VERY low. But I actually highly enjoyed it! The couple were both young and immature with this one, and so I found their issues and misunderstandings more believable. I adored Sherry and Hero as well as the side characters. It had both lighthearted, funny moments, as well as touching scenes. My Rating- 9/10
A Civil Contract- Another marriage of convenience! This is the last one, as far as I know. Adam, Viscount Lynton, marries Jenny Chawleigh, daughter of a very wealthy but vulgar merchant. He is unable to marry his love, Julia, and would have had to sell his beloved estate, Fontley. Adam doesn’t remember meeting Jenny, a school friend of Julia’s, who is actually in love with him. This story actually takes us through a year of their marriage. It’s much more serious in tone and I actually found it a bit depressing. Adam is a nice guy and is always a gentleman to his wife, even though he finds her unattractive and does not love her. It does have a happy ending, like all Heyer novels but it made me feel down at times. My rating: 8/10
The Convenient Marriage- This book looked like it was going to be charming in the first couple of chapters. Lord Rule and Horry’s meeting was a really humorous and delightful scene. Unfortunately, once it got underway, I quickly lost interest. Horry’s stammer was really annoying to read and I found her naivete and stupidity astounding! This was my first Heyer that followed a married couple and needless to say it didn’t leave a very good impression. 6/10
April Lady- What a choice to follow up with! This was very similar to The Convenient Marriage- a married couple love each other but each think the other doesn’t because of a misunderstanding. Add to that an annoying girl (Letty) and a well-meaning but good for nothing brother character and you get April Lady. Sheesh, why couldn’t Nell and Cardross, or Horry and Rule, just talk out their problems? I know there would be no book if that happened but I wasn’t a big fan of either book so there would be no complaints from me there. Other characters repeatedly tell Nell in this one that her husband loves her and that she should just tell him the truth. I don’t think anyone reassured Horry like that (but I don’t remember) so that makes Nell even stupider. Not to mention that they’ve already been married nearly a year! How dense are these girls? I like her stories that feature more intelligent heroines. 6/10
The Talisman Ring- This one was MUCH better. It’s set pre-Regency and combines mystery/adventure with romance. It’s hilariously funny and almost even a spoof of the genre. I thought I would find Ludovic and Eustacie, the secondary couple, annoying, but they actually made me laugh! I simply adored Sir Tristram and Sarah was really a dear. She was craving adventure and excitement but underneath she was still sensible. I loved the story, I loved the humor, I loved the characters…this probably goes into my top favorite Heyer books! 10/10
I can never go too long without reading another Georgette Heyer book. I still have a lot to go, but unfortunately they will run out eventually. I know I can always reread, but even so, I’ve been trying to space them out a bit.
Venetia- I’ll have to be honest and say it took me a long time to get into this book. I had read about the first two chapters before I got stuck. Admittedly, this was partly because of personal reasons and I also lost the book at one point. Yet it was true that I was not hooked from the start. But a few weeks ago, after finding it again I gave it another go. I was not disappointed! I’m usually not a fan of the “reformed rake” cliche yet this book didn’t quite follow that pattern. I found Venetia and Damarel’s love story to be very natural (and a bit sensual at parts!) and after all, Venetia did not even try to reform Damarel. She fell in love with him, knew he loved her as well, and thought she would have a much more exciting life as his wife. I like to think that Damarel was faithful to her all the same, as his past reckless behavior really all stemmed from a broken heart. 9/10
Why Shoot a Butler- Found this her dullest mystery of the few I’ve read. It was one of her earliest, so I guess she just hadn’t hit her stride yet. 6/10
A Blunt Instrument- I was able to guess the murderer from the start and I spent the rest of the book hoping I was wrong. Should I be proud of myself or disappointed because it was too obvious? I still enjoyed the book, but the mystery wasn’t really a mystery to me. The characters of Neville Fletcher and Sally Drew were amusing but I actually enjoyed Sergeant Hemingway and his slight bitterness the most. I’ve read enough of Heyer’s detective novels now to where I know there is a romance in each of them so it doesn’t surprise me anymore. This one did feel a bit tacked on, but still cute nonetheless. 7/10