Read for the Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge.
When you’ve read enough of Heyer’s work, you begin to sense certain themes. One of her favorites is a slightly older women (older being relative in Regency times) who’s practically on the shelf, and has given up on the idea of marriage for some reason (fortunately, she’s also independently wealthy), until she meets some sort of mild cad of a man. Naturally, they fall in love, she charms him, he reforms his rakish ways, and they live happily ever after.
Venetia has been brought up in the country of Yorkshire, and has remained there, caring for her near invalid younger brother. Two of the young men in the neighborhood wish to marry her, but she doesn’t like either of them that way, so has always figured she’d set up a household and take care of her younger brother, once her older brother finally gets around to marrying and taking up his duties at home.
There’s one neighbor not mentioned yet: Lord Damerel, the local baron, who ran off with a married woman in his youth. He’s not often at home, but Venetia manages to run into him one day while picking blackberries (so not being dressed like the daughter of a country squire). Needless to say, they start off on the wrong foot, but a riding accident of Aubrey’s (the younger brother) throws them at the mercy of Lord Damerel. Needless to say, Venetia goes from appalled to charmed, and the Baron seems to be following suite.
At this point, things seemed to be heading to their logical conclusions. Until I realized I was only at the middle of the book. And then things took a complete turn, and a singular event turned the story entirely on its head, throwing a wrench in the perfect ending for our reformed young lovers. And it was great. This is definitely now one of my favorite Heyer books. It’s completely anachronistic, and I don’t care. It was just so much fun, and I was completely surprised by several things that were thrown into the second half. Definitely worth the read.