OK folks, you lot owe me an explanation.
Everyone has raved about Georgette Heyer, how sparkly her prose is, how clever her characters… “if you love Austen, you’ll love Heyer” is the impression I’ve got.
Well, I don’t.
First I started listening to Beauvallet, and it’s a good thing I was in motion and thus unable to switch audiobooks because I would have given up on it within 5 minutes. So much period detail that I didn’t understand – I gather the inclusion of a large quantity of period detail is one of Heyer’s most lauded qualities, setting the reader in the moment. Well, it made me feel pretty left out. I don’t know what the different decks of a Spanish armada ship are called, and how they differ from the decks of a British ship in the same period, and I don’t really care either.
And then the heroine is a strong a courageous girl, but is mocked and then romanced by the hero! In the Mills and Boon/Twilight model*, she needs to be rescued, is swept off her feet by his winsome smile and excellent ancestry, blah blah blah. I’m astonished that a woman who grew up with the fight for women’s suffrage could write this sort of dependent, sappy female character!
TNLRC told me I started with the wrong one, and pointed me towards her regency work, so I picked up Black Sheep, lent to me by Mini-me. I quote the blurb:
Charming and wise in the ways of the world, Bath society-belle Miss Abigail Wendover has tried hard to detach her spirited niece Fanny from a plausible fortune-hunter. Her valiant efforts on behalf of her relative become vastly more complicated with the arrival of Miles Calverleigh. The black sheep of his family, a cynical, outrageous devil-may-care with a scandalous past – that would be a connection more shocking even than Fanny’s unwise liaison with his nephew! But Abby, adept at managing her sweet, silly sister Selina, her lively niece and the host of her admirers among Bath’s circumscribed society, has less success in controlling her own unruly heart.
I mean, do you think I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen here? 70 pages in and nothing has happened I didn’t expect from the blurb, Abby is wise but finds Miles vexatiously handsome… Urgh.
*I’ve never read any of either of these. But I’m prepared to be snobbish and prejudiced. Live with it.