Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Convenient Marriage

Horatia is not the Beauty of her family, but when wealthy Lord Rule asks for her sister's hand in marriage, Horatia makes him an offer he can't refuse and enters a loveless marriage of convenience to save her family from ruin.

Horatia is no shy beauty, in spite of her stammer and the fact that she is only seventeen. The scene where she basically proposes marriage to the male lead is funny and classic Heyer. Once wed, Horatia makes good use of Lord Rule's fortune, racking up gambling debts and buying outrageous hats and gowns. She's soon the Talk of the Town, and slowly her honesty and charm begin to woo the heart of her faithless husband.

Unfortunately, Horatia doesn't realize that her marriage has created new enemies and stirred the interest of Lord Rule's oldest foe: the suave Lord Lethbridge, who sees a way to get revenge on the husband through his new bride.

This Heyer book rarely disappoints, and provides duels and trickery worthy of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas or The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. There is one duel in particular that is exciting and atmospheric (though given the villain's truly awful crimes I wish it had ended more lethally).

Unfortunately, there is so much plot that we get very few scenes between the unfortunately nicknamed "Horry" and Lord Rule, so I found the chemistry lacking a bit. It would have helped me buy the romance between a naive 17-year-old and a jaded 35-year-old.

Horry's ne'er-do-well brother Pelham and his bumbling attempts to help her recover a lost piece of jewelry reminded me of a drunker version of Bertie Wooster (which may have been what Heyer intended since she named the brother Pelham, which is author P.G. Wodehouse's first name).

In short, there is enough romance, action, and humor to appeal to the most discerning reader!

(And yes, that is the ridiculous cover of my book. Oh 1975, you have a lot to answer for.)

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