Devil's Cub

Devil's Cub - Georgette Heyer This is the second part of a trilogy dealing with the Alastair family that began with These Old Shades and concludes with An Infamous Army. Some of the author's works can found in general fiction, and I know plenty who usually eschew romance novels who love Heyer--A.S. Byatt is a fan. Her Regency novels were published from 1921 to 1972 so I think we can put her into near-classic status--although Devil's Cub is actually set in the earlier Georgian Era. The book is a good example of the omniscient point of view--I hate the sloppy point of views you often seen in romance books that switch between characters thoughts within scenes, or even paragraphs, but a true omniscient point of view, done consistently from the beginning and with a strong voice is an exception to that rule--and Heyer does it well and with a lot of humor. Not that hers is a style I find completely graceful. The "she marvelled" and "he interjected" and the like in the speech tags accompanied by the most awkward adverb abuse--I felt as if bounced on a trampoline by them--and it's hard to read "he ejaculated" with a straight face. It's really great, witty dialogue--I wish Heyer would have got out of its way. (Though "chit" is used so often, I think I now know where hack romance novelists get it from.) There is a wealth of period detail--slang, fashions, etc.--I couldn't help but think of what I once read of Jane Austen though--that she eschewed a lot of details because she felt it would date her works, rather than making them universal, and early on all that description struck me as cluttered, but eventually I came to see it as part of Heyer's charm. This was my first Heyer, and I have to admit that besides the style issues, I initially had a problem with the titular character--I might have dropped the book a third way through if many I trust didn't tell me they love Heyer. The romantic hero, Dominic Alastair, Marquis of Vidal, is a rake, who in the first six chapters seems a cold stone killer and seducer. I detested him. About a hundred pages in he abducts the heroine, Mary Challoner, who obstructed his plans to make her sister his mistress. I thought, well, maybe I chose the wrong book. But then Mary endeared herself to me forever: Reader, she shot him. With his own pistol. After that, I started enjoying myself :-) Heyer's no Jane Austen, but she's heads above most romance writers and did charm me.