Kit's got quite the moral maze to navigate in False Colours - pretend to be his AWOL twin to avoid offending his possible-future-wife's grandmother, but without accidentally letting possible-future-wife fall in love with him before his twin returns. It's a good job he's got some serious diplomatic chops, and that Cressy Stavely is quite the diplomat herself. In fact this couple has all the political nous and charm of Regency Obamas.
But as lovely as their romance is, a special mention has to go to Sir Bonamy Ripple, bon viveur and loyal cicisbeo. Only the combination of his deep pockets and chivalry is enough to keep Lady Denville out of debt. And we couldn't bear to see Lady Denville kept in anything less than opulent style. A middle-aged woman with the ability to effortlessly enthrall young men is truly an inspiration. Although we possibly find ourselves relating a little too much to her concerns about haggard necks.
Join us in this episode where we discuss the slightly soppy endearments employed by our young couple, whether Evelyn should have a better fate than the saintly but dull Miss Askham, and we ask just how entrapped was Sir Bonamy?
'Sir Bonamy Ripple enjoys a good tipple,
Spanish fritters, partridge and pike.
But if he eats too much turtle,
he’ll soon turn quite purple,
for his corset’s as tight as you like.'
"Would you believe it? - the instant she clapped eyes on me, she said that she saw I had taken to dyeing my hair! I was never more shocked, for it is quite untrue! It is not dyeing one's hair merely to restore its colour when it begins to fade a little!"
Spoilers ahead. Possibly the most romantic of all Heyer novels, in this episode we fall under the spell of Dameral - a young Classics nerd turned rake, rejected by his family and society; and Venetia - pragmatic, brave, witty and kind despite a lifetime of loneliness. Theirs is an uncommon love, and we absolutely luxuriate in it.
But it's not all about the love story, because when Mrs Scorrier and Edward Yardley are on the scene the red mist of anger descends upon us. We simply cannot bear to see these domineering and outrageous figures persecute our lovely heroine. But of course, it's always fun to have villains you can happily hate.
Finally, apologies for making precisely zero references to any of the many literary allusions scattered throughout the book. We ran out of time and Flurry ate our homework. Instead we stick to our usual level and discuss Regency orgies and take bets on Dameral's faithfulness (in summary: we think he's clearly reformed).
"The thing is that even if you were to hold an orgy here the chances are he would only think it pretty tame, compared to the Romans, not to mention the Bacchae, who, from anything I can discover, were precisely the sort of females one would wish a boy not to know about!"
Spoilers ahead. A deathbed marriage, Bonaparte agents, a secret stairway, and Bouncer the much-maligned guard dog all play a part in this high-stakes adventure. We wonder if Elinor would have found herself embroiled in it if she wasn't making decisions when hungry.
Perhaps she should have had some of Dr. Ratcliffe's Restorative Pork Jelly - it seemed to keep Francis Cheviot strong enough to devise numerous devious plots (and we do like seeing the famous pork jelly get a mention).
But of course, Francis Cheviot is no match for the Carlyon brothers. We really enjoy the brotherly squabbling between sensible John and exuberant Nicky, and we commiserate with Elinor as everyone around her bows down to the unstoppable will of Ned Carlyon.
And naturally, our thoughts go out to Mrs Macclesfield - forced to rear her own children in the absence of a governess.
"She could not but acknowledge that it was the part of a loyal Englishwoman to do her possible to frustrate the enemies of her country, however ruthless these might be. But she wished she had not been the appointed Englishwoman."
In this episode we talk about how Horry and Rule - two charming and capable individuals - are made even more likeable because of their vulnerability when it comes to affairs of the heart.
It’s a vulnerability that allows our trio of villains (with distinct Dangerous Liaisons vibes) to interfere in their path to happiness. But there’s nothing like getting dunked in a pond to take a man down a peg or two.
And because we can’t have our Heyer novels too dark, we’ve got the risk-taking Pel, the ever-punctilious Pom, and the relatively level-headed Captain Heron becoming the most beset gang of highway robbers that we’ve ever heard of.
‘Marcus, is the girl a minx?’ She asked.
‘No,’ he answered. ’She is not, Louisa. I am not at all sure that she is not a heroine.’
Smugglers, murder plots, punch ups and a priest hole - it's quite the Famous Five adventure for Sir Tristram, Sarah, Ludovic and Eustacie (and Sir Hugh to make up the numbers).
In this episode we talk about the morbid flights of fancy of teenage girls, the allure of athletic gentlemen, and the skill required to shoot candelabras. Su also demonstrates that she understands neither French nor horse riding.
And amongst all that adventure we enjoy the sparkling chemistry between Sir Tristram and Miss Thane. Considering they're both well able to throw a devastating punch, we think they're a perfect match. In fact they'll be as happy as Sir Hugh in a wine cellar.
"Unfortunately, you, Sir Tristram, knowing nothing of me, and being possessed of a tyrannical disposition - I beg your pardon?'
'I did not speak,' replied Sir Tristram, eyeing her frostily.
Miss Thane met his look with one of liquid innocence. 'Oh I quite thought you did!'
'I choked,' explained Sir Tristram. 'Pray continue! You had reached my tyrannical disposition.'
Surprise bonus content! In this episode we imagine Shield sitting down to draw horses for Miss Thane's sketchbook - a vital part of their ruse to uncover the priest hole. Well... Su thought it would be fun to try writing that scene herself, and Rach encouraged her: https://thegeorgetteheyerpodcast.podbean.com/p/bonus-content/
Imagine if a relative foisted a coat-wearing monkey onto your household? It would be an absolute scene, but despite such an egregious start we just couldn’t help but fall under the spell of the ruthlessly kind-hearted Sophy, or the buttoned up, yet sexy, Charles.
We also find time to admire the nap-loving Queen of eggs Marquesa de Villacanas, and the ever-urbane Lord Charlbury. While he may have picked the worst possible time to contract mumps, he took being shot with undeniable aplomb. Miss Wraxton on the other hand, does not escape criticism - but isn’t she a real pleasure to dislike?
And of course we talk about what may come next for the happy couple, and Sophy’s briefly mentioned previous exploits - anyone heard of a missing manuscript telling us about the time she set a family in Belgium to rights? Because we want to read that!
‘Charlbury behaved with the greatest presence of mind imaginable - perfectly cool, and more than a match for such rascals!’
‘Oh Charlbury!’ sighed Cecilia, overcome by the thought of such intrepid conduct.
His lordship, soothingly patting her shoulder, could not resist asking: ‘How many of the desperate ruffians did I vanquish, Sophy?’
‘That,’ said Sophy, quelling him with a frown, ‘we shall never know!’
We’re back! After a year-long lockdown hiatus, we’re here to talk about Regency Buck...
High-handed Lord Worth meets headstrong Judith and sparks fly. Young Peregrine comes perilously close to death on multiple occasions, but eventually just discovers a love of yachts.
Along the way we meet lecherous royals, boxers and Beau Brummell himself. And then we find ourselves wishing Heyer hadn’t gone into quite such graphic detail on cock-fighting.
It’s good to be back.
‘It is the only thing I know of to his advantage,’ Judith said. ‘I will admit him to be an excellent whip. But for the rest I find him a mere fop, a creature of affectations, tricked out in modish clothes, thinking snuff to be of more moment than events of real importance.
Don’t you wish Heyer wrote sequels for more of her novels? Especially when that means you can catch up with the legendary Rupert!
Fighting and flirting abound as we career across France with star-crossed lovers Vidal and Mary. There’s drunk horse riding, gunshots, bar room brawls and a heroine with a very pragmatic attitude to food.
We talk about the lack of ginger heroes, what exactly constitutes a ‘classic’ nostril, and why Devil's Cub appealed so much to our teenage selves.
Let’s raise a glass to Dijon!
“The landlord was trying to explain that there were a great many English people in his house, all fighting duels or having hysterics.”
Voyons! We’re full of admiration for These Old Shades - it balances to perfection a riotous adventure and a genuinely touching love story.
Avon - the man with a dark past, red high heels and determination to prove worthy of his love. Leonie - wise beyond her years, haunted by loneliness, but with an indomitable spirit and ability to get herself out of scrapes. And Rupert, ah Rupert! Horse thief, enemy of poetry, and prince of our hearts.
We talk about how the Duke and his siblings grow closer, and why the age gap between Avon and Leonie doesn’t seem so disturbing in this story. We also cover Heyer’s take on nature vs nuture, and Avon’s ability to make a dramatic entrance.
And to anyone who doesn’t like These Old Shades we say “Bah!”
“I believe I have several times requested you not to call Rupert 'imbecile', infant."
"But Monseigheur, he is an imbecile!" she protested. "You know he is!"
"Undoubtedly, ma fille, but I do not tell the whole world so."
"Then I do not know what I am to call him," said Leonie.”
In this episode we talk about how reasonably intelligent people can mess up their love lives so very spectacularly.
We thrash out the character flaws of Serena and Rotherham, and come to a greater appreciation of Fanny and Major Kirkby's gentler souls.
And we even spend a little time admiring the brass neck of young Gerard Monksleigh - master of the budget-friendly elopement.
“The Lady Serena, never remarkable for propriety, stared incredulously, and exclaimed: ‘What in the world brings you here, I should like to know?’
‘So should I!’ retorted his lordship. ‘How well we should have suited, Serena! So many ideas as we have in common!”