Friday, October 24, 2014
Arabella Met a Black Sheep!
As you can probably tell from the illustration, I've been digging into the Heyer back catalogue again. But before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review, I've got an announcement to make.
After five years doing Second Helping reviews here on the Romance Dish and working with the lovely PJ and Andrea, I'm hanging up my ballet slippers. At least in the medium term.
These days I find I'm not reading nearly as much romance as I used to and when I do, it's catching up with tried-and-true authors who I've already reviewed several times here. So in the interests of freshness, I'm taking a break.
Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment or, even better, a recommendation. I've picked up some of my favorite authors through books mentioned on this blog and for that you'll always have my gratitude. I'd also like to thank PJ and Andrea for giving me such a wonderful forum for my opinions and a chance to talk about books I love with like-minded people. Always a buzz!
So this is my last actual review. Next month, I'm going to do a greatest hits piece about the books I've reviewed that you really, really have to read. And then my last spot in December will be a bit of a look back and a look forward for me personally.
It seems really appropriate to end my Second Helping column with a couple of lovely Georgette Heyers. As regulars know, I've been gradually re-reading GH's work and sharing my thoughts here. Another thing I'm eternally grateful to the Dishes for is that they got me involved on this project. I'd forgotten just how enchanting these books are! It's also given me a chance to revisit old favorites and find new ones. Both of the books today fall into the second category. I don't remember them as particularly outstanding, but I loved both revisiting them as a lady of a certain, ahem, age!
BLACK SHEEP (1966) is an absolute hoot with some of the best dialogue I've ever read. I think the neighbors were worried that I'd lost my mind, I laughed so loudly at this one. I'm absolutely shocked that it didn't make my top 10 last time I read the Heyers but it certainly would now.
The plot has a lot of GH's familiar tropes. The older, self-assured woman who falls in love despite herself. The harum-scarum niece and her amours. Annoying relatives. A complicated and improbable plot. And wit - LOTS of wit.
Abigail Wendover has settled into a comfortable if dull life in Bath with her hypochondriac/invalid sister Selina but life changes irrevocably when her niece Fanny falls into the hands of a fortune hunter. Even more disruptive to her calm routine, the fortune hunter's uncle arrives and turns out to be an attractive man who sets her heart beating much too fast, especially if she really is the dedicated spinster she claims.
Miles Calverleigh is the Black Sheep of the title. As a youth, his family exiled him to India when he kept getting into scrapes and now he's returned as a rich man with no respect for the occasional sillinesses of society. So we've got the good girl and the bad boy and fireworks ensue! Great fun.
Lovely Arabella Tallant embarks on her first season with only her spectacular looks to recommend her - until she takes umbrage at the arrogance of super-rich ton darling Robert Beaumaris and claims to be an heiress. False gossip about Arabella's huge fortune make her the target of every marriage-minded man in society. Mr. Beaumaris finds himself caught up in all the hijinks and, despite himself, enchanted by the headstrong and good-hearted vicar's daughter. Add in Arabella's reckless brother visiting London under a false identity and a cast of memorable and eccentric characters, and you have a recipe for a riproaring farce with a very nice romantic ending.
Both of these books are on the lighter end of the spectrum and are sure to brighten even the gloomiest day. Highly recommended.
So seeing these both fall firmly into the romantic comedy genre, do you have a favorite romantic comedy? Historal or contemporary? What's the last book that had you giggling out loud?