Sourcebooks, 2008 (1944)
Reviewed by Theresa Ichino
nyone who has ever read one of Georgette Heyer's creations is aware that she excels in character development, as well as plots that are character-driven, all set against richly detailed period backgrounds. Heyer has made 18th and 19th century Britain her particular domain, and a delightful playground it can be.
, willful young Lord Sheringham is doubly incensed after a visit to his ancestral estates. He has pursued the
to her childhood home in order to press his suit. When she declines his offer (Sherry makes the mistake of admitting he needs to marry immediately in order to gain control of his inheritance), he returns to Sheringham Place, only to be further infuriated by the reactions of his widowed mother and her brother. He is deeply suspicious of the honesty of his uncle, a trustee; and his parent's comments on his rakish behaviour and character goad him into a threat to marry the first female he sees on the road back to London.
e immediately encounters Hero Wantage, an orphan situated unhappily with a cousin who treats her as the poor relation she is. Since Sherry has a soft spot for her – and also wishes a sympathetic ear – he confides the ill treatment he received from Isabella and his own family. Uncritical Hero commiserates with sincerity, and Sherry decides on the spot that marrying her will serve the dual purpose of rescuing her from her bullying cousins and securing his inheritance.
hat follows is an amusing romp peopled with noteworthy personalities. Hero's mentors include Sherry's cronies, amongst them his foppish cousin Ferdy and the dashing Lord Wrotham, who is hopelessly in love with Isabella. Her most reliable guide is Sherry's good friend Mr. Ringwood; but careless young bachelors are not ideal chaperones for a babe thrown into the pitfall-strewn tangle of aristocratic Regency society. Sherry's friends watch with dismay as Hero's innocence lands her in hot water time and again, and each time Sherry's patience wears a bit thinner.
inally, Mr. Ringwood decides upon a drastic plan to rescue Hero from her latest scrape and hopefully to bring both Sherry and Hero to a reevaluation of their odd marriage.
cannot count the number of times I have read and re-read
; and each re-reading is still a joy. So vivid are the characters, so real the world Heyer recreates that a return visit never fails to entertain.
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