It’s hard to believe that 202 years ago Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was first published. I wonder if Jane had any idea, as she sat writing out her manuscript with ink and quill stewing over the exact words Elizabeth and Darcy would say to each other, that over two hundred years later fans would still be enjoying the trials and tribulations of the Bennett household?!
The first publication in the US happened in 1832. Since its original publication, Pride and Prejudice has never been out of print. I know that I personally own five different copies of this fabulous novel (I know, I know, a little excessive but one is in a hardbound complete works of Jane Austen, one is the marked up copy I used in college, one is a pretty small bound edition that is just fun to hold and read, one is the hardbound single edition my husband brought with him to the marriage that matches his other hardbound classic novels, and of course I have it in ebook). Bravo Miss Austen! Bravo! I know that I will be celebrating this momentous occasion by watching one of the great film editions (okay, any excuse to rewatch one of my favorite shows) but the hard question, as always, is which one to watch, BBC miniseries or Kiera Knightly version?!
Ask just about any romance author which author had the greatest impact on them and their writing and they will almost always say Georgette Heyer. Credited with creating the Regency Period genre, Heyer was an amazingly prolific writer who published her first novel, The Black Moth, at the age of 17 and it has never been out of print since (info from Georgette Heyer Fan site found here). There have been numerous essays, articles, fan gushings, and books written about Heyer, including this latest biography that I am itching to read (Georgette Heyer by Jennifer Kloester). It is not just that Heyer creating fun characters with dashing adventures, it is truly her attention to detail that has helped her capture the hearts and minds of readers for decades.
My mother first introduced me to the wonderful writings of Heyer when I was a teenager. Not only are Heyer’s novels filled with adventure, spunk, sass, and love, they are also clean so no graphic sex scenes. But Heyer’s writing is so great the sex scenes aren’t needed. Years later (I’m not going to share how many years since I read my first copy but know that it is more than a few) my print copies are literally worn out, bindings broken, pages falling out, all because I (and my sisters) have reread them so many times. While I do have almost her entire collection in ebook format now, I find that I just can’t give away my well-loved print copies.
Now I can’t say I love all of her historical novels (not a huge fan of The Convenient Wife) but I do love a number of them. It has been years since I have read some of them so I thought, what better way to kick off a new year on Novel Reaction than by reading a Georgette Heyer novel each month?! For those of you old fans, it is a good excuse to dust off your copy and enjoy a reread. For those of you new to Georgette Heyer, you are in for a treat! The first couple of novels I have chosen but as the year progresses I will post some polls and see what everyone is interested in reading. For this month (and I realize I am late getting this posting up and the month is already more than half over) I thought we would start of reading Heyer’s “series” beginning with These Old Shades.
Set in the Georgian period, about 20 years before the Regency, These Old Shades is considered to be the book that launched Heyer’s career. It features two of Heyer’s most memorable characters: Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, and Leonie, whom he rescues from a life of ignomy and comes to love and marry.
The Duke is known for his coldness of manner, his remarkable omniscience, and his debauched lifestyle. Late one evening, he is accosted by a young person dressed in ragged boy’s clothing running away from a brutal rustic guardian. The Duke buys “Leon” and makes the child his page. “Leon” is in fact Leonie, and she serves the Duke with deep devotion. When he uncovers the true story of her birth, he wreaks an unforgettable revenge on her sinister father in a chilling scene of public humiliation.
Temple has spent the last twelve years with the title of “Killer Duke”, everyone having believed he murdered Mara Lowe on the eve of her marriage to his father. In No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean, Temple doesn’t remember what happened that fateful night but he does know what he has done the last twelve years to survive after being disowned by everyone who knew him, he has spent it fighting. Now Temple is one of the powerful men behind the exclusive casino that everyone in the Ton flocks to, having thought he had seen everything he is shocked when Mara arrives at his house one night offering the one thing he never thought he could get, absolution from the charge of murder.
Mara ran twelve years ago, ran from the arranged marriage she didn’t want, ran from the society that would allow its daughters to be sold off to the highest bidder, and ran from having no real purpose to her life. Now Mara is facing the fact that she will have to leave the life she has created for herself in order to save her brother from debtor’s prison.
Normally I love Sarah MacLean’s novels but I really struggled with No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. Partly because I love MacLean for her humor and so I went into No Good Duke expecting humor and it was a lot more serious novel and partly because I just didn’t like Mara a whole lot. Mara felt really flip-floppy to me, I realize what MacLean was trying to do in creating an incredibly strong heroine but having her have some vulnerability however, she came off as whiny, selfish, and not very likable. Also, a key part of the novel is that the brother, her only family member she has maintained any contact with, has gambled away all of his money (and hers) and Mara approaches Temple with the offer in large part to save her brother and then the brother just kind of disappears from the novel. I do really like Temple’s character, he has suffered through a lot but has managed to find a place for himself in the world, fighting at the casino. And I loved the boys at the orphanage and wished we could have spent more time with those entertaining scamps. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is the third book in the Rules of Scoundrels‘ series but you don’t need to have read the previous two novels to read it. I recommend No Good Duke Goes Unpunished as a one time read but honestly I would probably check it out from the library or borrow it from a friend rather than purchasing it outright.
You can read an excerpt here.
Rules of Scoundrels Reading Order:
Title: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
Author: Sarah MacLean
Format: Paperback, eBook
Page Nos.: 405
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Available for purchase: Amazon
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.
Novel Reaction is excited to welcome Elizabeth Boyle as part of her blog tour for If Wishes Were Earls (you can read my review here) telling us a bit more about the necklace that plays such a key role in the novel. First though, a little bit more about Elizabeth:
Elizabeth Boyle is the author of 22 Regency set historical romances. Her love of the Georgian period is woven into her stories, setting lovers amongst the battlefields of Spain, the treachery of the French Revolution and the world of spies and con artists. Read more about her novels and various series at her website, ElizabethBoyle.com.
The real challenge of writing If Wishes Were Earls wasn’t the fact that the two characters were madly in love from page one (which believe me—is truly a challenge) but it turned out to be finding the right sub-plot to explain the villainy being perpetuated against the Earl of Roxley. It had to be something he’d had no hand in and no knowledge of so the discovery of it would take both time and leave him gobsmacked.
It was sort of one of those pace-the-floor and dig-around-in-my-research-books problems. I threw away over 100 pages of one idea. Another 50 of yet another. Nothing seemed to work. That is until I turned to Roxley’s gadabout parents and their penchant for gambling.
If they had been on the Continent when Roxley was young . . . I asked myself. Which led me to Paris, which led me to the scandal of that year: The Affair of the Diamond Necklace.
For those not familiar with the story, The Queen’s Necklace was originally a grand diamond necklace commissioned by the previous French king for his mistress—but before he could give it to his paramour, he died of smallpox and his mistress sent packing. For the jewelers this was a nightmare—because they hadn’t been paid—and no one other than royalty could afford such a costly piece. For years, they sought buyers to this necklace but to no avail. No queens wanted it because it had been designed for a courtesan. They even offered it to Marie Antoinette at a bargain, but she refused.
That was when the Comtessa de la Motte entered the picture. A con artist with very sketchy aristocratic connections she managed to convince the Cardinal Rohan—who had gained the Queen’s disfavor—that a necklace such as that might win back the Queen’s good graces. Further, the kindly comtessa graciously offered to act as the middleman for the cardinal. Of course, once she had the necklace, she and her husband broke it up, her husband taking the bulk of the stones to sell in London.
And that was where I saw my opportunity. What if the Comte de la Motte, like the earl’s parents was a gambler at heart, and what if while trying to lay low as he fled to London, he came upon what looked like an easy game of cards with an Englishman . . . and what if de la Motte lost?
Yes, I had my sub-plot—because a cache of diamonds could be easily hidden, lusted after, and most importantly, be of intense interest for some really deviously evil people who were willing to wait to get their hands on a treasure hoarde.
But it isn’t always easy weaving an actual historical event into a fictional novel. The timeline of events must be to the letter perfect. The fictional story must weave into the actual facts, filling up where there are openings in the historical accounts and allowing the real facts to remain untouched. And since there is no account how de la Motte got to London, there was one hole. What happened to the diamonds once they reached London is yet another. They were sold—but there were speculations and rumors about how many were sold and to whom.
Like my villains, I couldn’t resist the lure of such a literal story gem. And I had to wonder what the Earl of Roxley and his dear Harriet would do once they found these perfect diamonds. I know what I would do…..
Thanks Elizabeth for sharing with us a little more about the mysterious diamond necklace at the center of If Wishes Were Earls. It has always fascinated me that such a cold looking stone (diamonds) have the ability to inspire such passion and desire in the hearts of men (and women), not that I am one to speak because goodness knows I love me some bling. If Wishes Were Earls is the third book in the Rhymes With Love series.
Rhymes with Love Reading Order:
Harriet Hathaway has only ever wanted one man: the Earl of Roxley. After a passionate interlude at a house party, Harriet is convinced Roxley will do the right thing and propose. But when she returns to London, she finds the roguish earl on the verge of proposing to another.
Yet Harriet refuses to believe that her hopes of a happily ever after are completely lost—for she can see the desire still flickering in the earl’s eyes when he looks at her from across the dance floor. And when they are alone…there is one wish neither can deny.
The most extraordinary things can happen.
The Earl of Roxley is in a dangerous fix—and to keep Harriet safe, he must hold her at arm’s length. He won’t entangle her in the murderous mystery that is threatening to destroy his family and his future. But keeping Harriet Hathaway out of his troubles proves as impossible as it was to keep the determined beauty from stealing his heart.