Monday, March 22, 2021

9. The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer

This is the second Georgette Heyer and while I am glad there are quite a lot of them, I know that I am going to have to parse them out carefully.  She is like a box of delicious chocolates.  Each one is scrumptious but as soon as you finish it, you just want to eat the next one.  By the time you finish the box, you just feel a bit sick and can't separate one chocolate from the other in your memory.  So patience!

The story here is about Earl St. Erth, a succesful soldier returning home from Waterloo to his estate, which has been effectively run by his cousin and populated by his mother-in-law and her son, Martin (his half-brother).  These latter two had been assuming the Earl would be killed and that Martin would become the earl.  Martin has been spoiled by his mother and is already a hothead.  The earl is very good-looking, charming and skilled and also quite chill.  Martin doesn't hate him but gets quite heated up and this gets acute when the earl charms the young girl in town whom Martin (and many other boys) had been circling.  Things get somewhat more serious when several near-accidents and finally an attempt at murder befall the earl.  Is it Martin?  Suspicion and polite tension abounds.  I failed to mention the mousy yet supremely practical Miss Morville, who is the dowager's friend (at least tolerates her) and thus always around to help out in the action. 

This is probably the first full-on hardcore romance novel I have read.  The mystery and very light gothic elements are secondary to the subtle at first, but quite obvious in the second half potential of a match between the debonair and self-assured earl and the equally self-assured but sexless (at least on the surface) daughter of progressive intellectuals.  It's a great match and resolved in an extremely satisfying way to the point that my allergies may have acted up every so slightly and I was forced to blow my nose.

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