I took full advantage of the sale from Sourcebooks of all ebooks by the "Queen of Regency" romance, Georgette Heyer. Many have said that reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen and I have to agree. Heyer researched the period meticulously and made full use of period slang and terminology. It is easy to read the language in context but I found Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World not only useful but interesting reading on it's own merits. I especially enjoyed the short biographies of real historical figures that make an appearance in the books. When I said I took full advantage of the sale I wasn't kidding. I have enough Heyer books to make me smile for a long time to come.
The Toll-Gate (1954) tells the story of Captain John Staple. "Crazy Jack" is beloved by his comrades and known for his exploits both on and off the battlefield. Back from the Peninsular Wars, he is bored with his country life and being encouraged by his family to marry. Having never met a girl who "levelled" him he is in no hurry to settle down. When he stumbles across a toll-gate with a missing gatekeeper and a frightened child, nothing will stop him from taking over the toll-gate and solving the mystery. When he meets Lady Nell Stornaway at the gate, Jack is finally "levelled". Lady Nell has a sick grandfather and is being plagued by menacing relatives. The road to a happy ending has many twists and turns and a wealth of memorable characters. Reading Georgette Heyer's Regency World would have been very useful as it is full of "thieves cant" but I was able to muddle along. RATING 4 Stars
(1950) is one of Georgette Heyer's best known and loved novels- for very good reasons. Lady Ombersley agrees to take in her niece Sophy who has been living and traveling with her diplomat father for the previous 10 years. During those years Sophy has grown into an imposing young woman with a mind of her own and a penchant for "setting things to right". The Ombersley family is much in need of Sophy's help, whether they know it or not. Cecelia is in love with a poet, oldest son Charles has tyrannical tendencies and an annoyingly pious betrothed, Father is of no use at all and the younger children are in need of some fun and freedom. Sophy takes the "ton" and the family by storm and manages to break almost all of society's rules in the process. By the end of the novel all is well with the Ombersleys and Sophy has stolen Charles' heart. This is Georgette Heyer at the very top of her game. RATING- 5 stars
Arabella (1949) is another of Heyer's most beloved heroines. Daughter of a country vicar, Arabella is the eldest of eight children in a happy household and an acknowledged beauty. Her mother has a little money of her own and has scrimped and saved for years so that Arabella might have a London season and make an advantageous match. Her godmother, Lady Bridlington, has agreed to launch her into society. On the way to London, Arabella's ancient coach breaks down in front of Robert Beaumarais' hunting lodge and she asks for shelter. Beaumarais is a "nonpareil" of the ton and very jaded and haughty besides. When Arabella overhears a remark he makes about her, her famous impetuous temper leads her to make up a story about her background and circumstances. This story will haunt her as Robert thinks it would be amusing to spread it about that Arabella is a great heiress. Arabella is a success in society with many marriage proposals but she never knows whether she is being sought out because of herself or her supposed fortune. Meanwhile, Robert is falling in love with her wit, charm and compassionate nature. During the course of their relationship Robert finds a home for a mistreated chimney-sweep, takes in an unprepossessing mongrel dog and saves Arabella's impetuous young brother from certain disgrace and possible prison. None of these things would he have done without meeting Arabella. Arabella is witty and heart-warming, a pleasure to read. RATING- 5 stars