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Friday, January 09, 2009

Review: Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer is often regarded as the queen of romance and is credited with creating the romance novel. Review after review sings the praises of Heyer while simultaneously decrying the romance genre. People who would never dare be seen reading romance will happily praise Heyer and seek out title after title. When I first began noticing this several years ago, I made a mental note to give one of her books a try. I believed that since I do enjoy romance novels that I would LOVE Heyer. Right?

Last summer I was lucky enough to win a copy of Lady of Quality from Lezlie at Books N' Border Collies. FINALLY, here was my chance to see what all the hype was about. This was my first Heyer (if you haven't caught on to that yet) so I really have nothing to compare it with, but it would seem that it is very much written like the others. Here's the basic plot summary from

Miss Annis Wychwood, at twenty-nine, has long been on the shelf, but this bothers her not at all. She is rich and still beautiful and she enjoys living independently in Bath, except for the tiresome female cousin, who her very proper brother insists must live with her.

When Annis offers sanctuary to the very young runaway heiress Miss Lucilla Carleton, no one at all thinks this is a good idea. With the exception of Miss Carleton's overbearing guardian, Mr. Oliver Carleton, whose reputation as the rudest man in London precedes him. Outrageous as he is, the charming Annis ends up finding him absolutely irresistible.

Well, that could be any of dozens of romance novels on the market today! For all my romance reading, I don't read a lot of traditional Regencies so that may be where my problem comes from, but I was pretty eh on the book. I started reading it shortly after I received it last summer and I finally finished it up last week. It wasn't bad but it wasn't riveting. It was slow paced and nothing much happened. Ever. In a romance novel, this isn't necessarily a bad thing as a full story can be written of just the falling in love aspect. I didn't find this to be true of this book. The plot is slow and the falling in love is so subtle that I didn't even notice it. That IS a bad thing. In a romance novel you should certainly notice when the main characters fall in love.

There are some great characters in Lady of Quality. Both Annis and Oliver are well done and the secondary characters have personality. Lucilla, the runaway, is as charming as a young girl can be and Ninian, the runaway's childhood friend, is appealing. The witty banter is, well, witty. (But I think Julia Quinn does it better.) Overall, it is a perfectly acceptable book, but I doubt it makes my top ten this year. It's enough that I'll attempt a second Heyer, but with only one title under my belt, I don't see how Heyer gained such a rabid following.

Have YOU read any Heyer? What did you think? Did you read Lady of Quality? I know at least one other blogger did, but I can't seem to remember who...



  1. I've recently read two of Heyer's novels -- The Reluctant Widow and Regency Buck. Found the first one witty and amusing, but the second didn't appeal.

    If you are really fond of the romance genre, you might enjoy all of them, but my experience was 50/50.

  2. I think I've read three now, and my favorite was Cotillion. I think there are so many that it can be a little hit and miss. And they do start to sound the same after a while. She is a good writer though!


  3. I love, love, love Lady of Quality. Some Heyer's are like; some I love. Some are boring but eventually pick up towards the end. Some have me from hello.

    I think there is a sophistication in her writing that is lacking in the mass-market, super-market romance book. One isn't necessarily 'better' than another. It's whatever keeps the reader turning pages.

    But for those that like classics--Austen and other female writers from a century or two ago--Heyer is a good fit, maybe a better fit. (More description, slower pacing, sophisticated language)

    If Austen bores you to tears, then Heyer may bore you too.

    And I think it's important to keep in mind that these aren't modern or contemporary romances we're talking about. Heyer wrote them beginning in the 1920s. And they span the decades up until the early 1970s.

  4. I haven't read anything from her but I would not even pick it up because of the cover:( Sorry!

  5. I will give her another chance, I have at least two more on my TBR.

    Becky, I DO love Austen. I think the slow pace would have been fine, if I could have seen the emotional part happening, but it was far too subtle for me. After posting my review I read that this was her last novel. Perhaps that was the problem, it was routine to her by then.


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