by Georgette Heyer
When Frederica brings her younger siblings to London determined to secure a brilliant marriage for her beautiful sister, she seeks out their distant cousin the Marquis of Alverstoke.
Normally wary of his family, which includes two overbearing sisters and innumerable favor-seekers, Lord Alverstoke does his best to keep his distance. But with his enterprising-- and altogether entertaining-- country cousins getting into one scrape after another right on his doorstep, before he knows it the Marquis finds himself dangerously embroiled...
On the whole, this is quite an enjoyable read-- particularly for fans of the Regency period. I liked it very much, but never quite loved it. I'm not sure what was lacking for me... I mean, I could nitpick a few things (see section below), but essentially, it's a good, happy-making read. It just doesn't merit heart-shaped googly-eyes for me...
But on the positive side, it's warm and pleasant and amusing. This is a cozy, comforting little world where you can rest your weary nerves in safe assurance that nothing truly awful will happen. *sigh of contentment* Isn't it nice that such books exist, when you need them?
Specifics (with SPOILERS):
--I don't love it when a book that purports to be a romance (or just any book for adults) is heavily populated with child-characters. I find it takes too much of the focus off of the parts of the plot that I actually care about, and all too often, the children are written in such a way that they annoy me greatly. To be fair, the younger characters in this book (Jessamy and Felix) are much better than average; they feel like they are an organic part of the story-- not just characters shoehorned in from ulterior motives. Still, I did sometimes get bored of them and wish that the book might have spent a little less time on their exploits and scrapes.
(To continue from above...) However, if there had been less time spent on Jessamy and Felix, that would've meant more time with Alverstoke and Frederica, and while I liked them pretty well as a couple, for most of the book I wasn't clamoring for more of their interactions. It was quite a restrained romance, let's say. Their occasional banter was... fine... but it didn't set my heart aflutter, unfortunately.
That said, this romance feels more realistic and likely than most I've come across. (That may be why it's not quite so thrilling to read about!) I do like that in the proposal scene, Frederica is not initially completely sure if what she feels for Alverstoke is love. It's not the fantastical, over-the-top emotion she has witnessed in her younger sister's attachments, but she realizes that this calmer affection and deep comfort with one another is love-- a more mature, steady, reliable connection than the flash-whiz-bang, sometimes crazed infatuation of youth.
--Alverstoke is another hero who can't for the life of him stop referring to the heroine (his romantic interest) as a "child". Even "my child", sometimes. That is one of my pet peeves. Yuck. Authors, just don't do it.
--The language of Heyer's Regencies is so often amusing! Moonling, for instance.
--If you want to laugh, look up some period illustrations of the "Pedestrian Curricle" (of the type that Jessamy uses). The fancy gentlemen with their legs stretched out, toes pointed--! A "Pedestrian Curricle" was basically an early, inferior version of the bicycle. Lacking a chain and pedals, it was powered by the rider pushing along the ground/pavement with his feet. Kind of like a Flintstone's version of a bicycle.
--I recall being confused when, reading another book, I came across a character who reacted to a genuine, appreciated compliment by "bridling". At the time, I thought perhaps it was an error on the part of the author, because I'd only ever seen the word used to describe someone reacting with annoyance or anger. However, this book provides another instance of that usage-- "bridling with pleasure". Apparently that is indeed "a thing", though I persist in the opinion that it sounds wrong.
--Restorative Pork Jelly! It made me laugh, as intended, but I also found it interesting, in light of the modern trendiness (in certain circles, at least) of bone broth. Not that bone broth and pork jelly are the same, but they definitely have some qualities in common.