The Black Moth

The Black Moth

3.7 87
by Georgette Heyer

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The Black Moth is Georgette Heyer's first novel, written when she was 17 years old to amuse her sick brother. It features Jack Carstares—an Earl turned highwayman—and his enemy—the enigmatic Duke of Andover—who engage in an intense rivalry over society beauty Diana Beauleigh...

Seven years before our story opens, Carstares protected his


The Black Moth is Georgette Heyer's first novel, written when she was 17 years old to amuse her sick brother. It features Jack Carstares—an Earl turned highwayman—and his enemy—the enigmatic Duke of Andover—who engage in an intense rivalry over society beauty Diana Beauleigh...

Seven years before our story opens, Carstares protected his brother by allowing himself to be disgraced for cheating at cards. His brother, suffering intense guilt, isn't aware that they played right into the hands of the Duke of Andover.

The disgraced Earl now roams the countryside until a confrontation with his rival thwarts the attempt to kidnap the lovely Diana. But now the Duke is more determined than ever to have Diana for his own, and the two men will meet at sword point before the Earl's name can be cleared and he can claim his fair lady.


"Our Georgette Heyer display of the Sourcebooks reprints has been a huge success, not only to those early fans like myself, but to many new readers who appreciate her style and wit."
Nancy Olson, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

"Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen."
Publishers Weekly

"Wonderful characters, elegant, witty writing, perfect period detail, and rapturously romantic. Georgette Heyer achieves what the rest of us only aspire to."
Katie Fforde

"Perfect craftsmanship."
New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A distinctly witty and enchanting tale. " - Rundpinne

"A great story, set in a decadent time period. What more can you ask for in a great romance?" - Debbie's Book Bag

"The Black Moth is a nice story, enjoyable in its own unseasoned, romantic way." - A Book Blogger's Dairy

"Witty and cunning with sharp dialog that kept me entertained throughout." - Book Junkie

"Everyone is in love with dashing Jack Carstares!" - HistoricalNovels.Info

"Heyer builds suspense into the story that kept me reading... Pure fun. " - Jenny Loves to Read

"Richly detailed... The world depicted by Heyer was just fascinating." - Becky's Book Reviews

A distinctly witty and enchanting tale.
— Jennifer Higgins
Debbie's Book Bag
A great story, set in a decadent time period. What more can you ask for in a great romance?
— Debbie Lester
A Book Blogger's Dairy
The Black Moth is a nice story, enjoyable in its own unseasoned, romantic way.
— Rashmi Sirnarvis
Book Junkie
Witty and cunning with sharp dialog that kept me entertained throughout.
— Brande Waldron

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Read an Excerpt

The Black Moth

By Georgette Heyer

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373835582

Chapter One

Clad in his customary black and silver, with raven hair unpowdered and elaborately dressed, diamonds on his fingers and in his cravat, Hugh Tracy Clare Belmanoir, Duke of Andover, sat at the escritoire in the library of his town house, writing.

He wore no rouge on his face, the almost unnatural pallor of which seemed designedly enhanced by a patch set beneath his right eye. Brows and lashes were black, the former slanting slightly up at the corners, but his narrow, heavy-lidded eyes were green and strangely piercing. The thin lips curled a little, sneering, as one dead-white hand travelled to and fro across the paper.

"... but it seems that the Fair Lady has a Brother, who, finding Me Enamoured, threw down the Gauntlet. I soundly whipt the presumptuous Child, and so the Affair ends. Now, as you, My dear Frank, also took some Interestt in the Lady, I write for the Express Purpose of informing You that at my Hands she has received no Hurt, nor is not like to. That I in part tell You that You shall not imagine Yr self in Honor bound again to call Me out, which Purpose, an I mistake not, I yesterday read in Yr Eyes. I should be Exceeding loth to meet You a Second Time, when I should consider it my Duty to teach You an even severer Lesson than Before. This I am not Wishful of doing for the Liking I bear You.

"So in all Friendship believe me, Frank," Your most Obedient, Humble "Devil."

His Grace of Andover paused, pen held in mid-air. A mocking smile dawned in his eyes, and he wrote again.

"In the event of any Desire on Yr Part to hazard Yr Luck with my late Paramour, Permit Me to warn You 'gainst the Bantam Brother, who is in Very Truth a Fire-Eater, and would wish to make of You, as of Me, one Mouthfull. I shall hope to see You at the Queensberry Rout on Thursday, when You may Once More strive to direct mine Erring Footsteps on to the Thorny Path of Virtue."

His Grace read the postscript through with another satisfied, sardonic smile. Then he folded the letter, and affixing a wafer, peremptorily struck the hand-bell at his side.

And the Honourable Frank Fortescue, reading the postscript half-an-hour later, smiled too, but differently. Also he sighed and put the letter into the fire.

"And so ends another affaire.... I wonder if you'll go insolently to the very end?" he said softly, watching the paper shrivel and flare up. "I would to God you might fall honestly in love - and that the lady might save you from yourself - my poor Devil!"

* * * At the Chequers Inn, Fallowfield

Chadber was the name of the host, florid of countenance, portly of person, and of manner pompous and urbane. Solely within the walls of the Chequers lay his world, that inn having been acquired by his great-grandfather as far back as the year 1667, when the jovial Stuart King sat on the English throne, and the Hanoverian Electors were not yet dreamed of.

A Tory was Mr. Chadber to the backbone. None so bitter 'gainst the little German as he, and surely none had looked forward more eagerly to the advent of the gallant Charles Edward. If he confined his patriotism to drinking success to Prince Charlie's campaign, who shall blame him? And if, when sundry Whig gentlemen halted at the Chequers on their way to the coast, and, calling for a bottle of Rhenish, bade him toss down a glass himself with a health to his Majesty, again who shall blame Mr. Chadber for obeying? What was a health one way or another when you had rendered active service to two of his Stuart Highness's adherents?

It was Mr. Chadber's boast uttered only to his admiring Tory neighbours, that he had, at the risk of his own life, given shelter to two fugitives of the disastrous 'Forty-five, who had come so far out of their way as quiet Fallowfield. That no one had set eyes on either of the men was no reason for doubting an honest landlord's word. But no one would have thought of doubting any statement that Mr. Chadber might make. Mine host of the Chequers was a great personage in the town, being able both to read and to write, and having once, when young, travelled as far north as London town, staying there for ten days and setting eyes on no less a person than the great Duke of Marlborough himself when that gentleman was riding along the Strand on his way to St. James's.

Also, it was a not-to-be-ignored fact that Mr. Chadber's home-brewed ale was far superior to that sold by the landlord of the rival inn at the other end of the village.

Altogether he was a most important character, and no one was more aware of his importance than his worthy self.

To "gentlemen born," whom, he protested, he could distinguish at a glance, he was almost obsequiously polite, but on clerks and underlings, and men who bore no signs of affluence about their persons, he wasted none of his deference.

Thus it was that, when a little green-clad lawyer alighted one day from the mail coach and entered the coffee-room at the Chequers, he was received with pomposity and scarce-veiled condescension.

He was nervous, it seemed, and more than a little worried. He offended Mr. Chadber at the outset, when he insinuated that he was come to meet a gentleman who might perhaps be rather shabbily clothed, rather short of purse, and even of rather unsavoury repute.

Very severely did Mr. Chadber give him to understand that guests of that description were entirely unknown at the Chequers.

There was an air of mystery about the lawyer, and it appeared almost as though he were striving to prove mine host. Mr. Chadber bridled a little, and became aloof and haughty.

When the lawyer dared openly to ask if he had had any dealings with highwaymen of late, he was very properly and thoroughly affronted.

The lawyer became suddenly more at ease. He eyed Mr. Chadber speculatively, holding a pinch of snuff to one thin nostril.

"Perhaps you have staying here a certain - ah - Sir - Anthony - Ferndale?" he hazarded.

The gentle air of injury fell from Mr. Chadber. Certainly he had, and come only yesterday a-purpose to meet his solicitor.

The lawyer nodded.

"I am he. Be as good as to apprise Sir Anthony of my arrival."

Mr. Chadber bowed exceeding low, and implored the lawyer not to remain in the draughty coffee-room. Sir Anthony would never forgive him an he allowed his solicitor to await him there. Would he not come to Sir Anthony's private parlour?

The very faintest of smiles creased the lawyer's thin face as he walked along the passage in Mr. Chadber's wake.


Excerpted from The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Author of over fifty books, Georgette Heyer is the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, who made the Regency period her own. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was written at the age of fifteen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Although most famous for her historical novels, she also wrote eleven detective stories. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.

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The Black Moth 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
My Synopsis: It's hard to believe that beloved novelist Georgette Heyer wrote her first novel at the age of 15. Historical fiction would not be the same without Georgette Heyer's Regency Romances. Mrs. Heyer wrote her first novel, The Black Moth to entertain her brother who was convalescing at the time. In The Black Moth, Heyer introduces us to some very memorable characters. The highwayman, who just happens to be an Earl, Jack Carstares. The damsel in distress, Diana Beauleigh. The handsome Irishman, Miles O'Hara and 'The Devil' himself, The Duke of Andover. Jack Carstares left England in disgrace when he took the blame for his brothers indiscretion. Being considered a cheat was no laughing matter. Carstares eventually turns to the way of the highwayman to amuse and distract himself, giving the money to the poor. The Black Moth centers around the Earl's return to grace, his love for the beautiful Diana and his relationship with his adversary, The Duke of Andover. My Thoughts: This was my first experience with a Georgette Heyer book. I had often heard of her in historical fiction circles and knew she sounded like an author I would enjoy. This book was excellent! Some people have a hard time with the style of writing from this period, the book was originally published in 1921, but I didn't find it hard to follow at all. The Black Moth had all the adventure and romance of any contemporary tale. The characters were well developed and the story did not move too quickly. I became invested in Diana's character almost immediately. The young girl at the mercy of the handsome Duke. Not only that, but in love with a disgraced man. The stylish Earl dressed as a highwayman who couldn't bring himself to rob women or old men, was also a very winning character. I even found myself wishing that 'The Devil,' The Duke of Andover would somehow find the straight and narrow path. An great story, set in a decadent time period. What more can you ask for in a great romance?
Schmooby-Doo More than 1 year ago
Disgraced hero rescues heroine from bad guy. Sounds like a simple swashbuckler and yes it is. What sets it apart is the author's use of language, knowledge and description of fashion and stellar characterizations. You'll come to know these people and you are transported to 18th century England. No bodice ripping here and there's no need either! Nobody comes close to G. Heyer for this period and her Regency novels --- she is the Gold Standard. My family (guys and gals) have been reading her for decades! G. Heyer just seemed to have lived in those times; that how good her grasp is on it! Enjoy! Highly recommended and there is some great sword play. I'll never know why her books were never filmed because you will be able to picture them, that's how good this book is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Georgette Heyer novels started my passion for romance novels and this book is one of the best. It has a great story, a hero worthy of the sobriquet hero, a great villain, an intrepid heroine and lots of humor. My only complaint is that the book isn't longer. If you aren't acquainted with the works of Georgette Heyer, then you have a real treat awaiting you and this book is one of her gems. These books have been hard to find, so it is wonderful that they are being reprinted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I will freely admit to being a Georgette Heyer fan and owning every one of her Regency books (and starting to collect her Gothic and historical novels), I highly recommend that you not make Black Moth your first Heyer experience! The language is a bit archaic and some of the cheaper editions are filed with problems. Start with These Old Shades or Venetia or The Convenient Marriage. These, in my opinion, are her three most enjoyable. The Black Moth is, as all Georgette Heyer books, a great read and belongs in your collection, but save it until you've read her others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Telling by the cover this reminded me of the Princess Bride since in this there is a mention of the sport fence as well is in the Princess Bride. This is the story about Jack who is disgraced and must get back his honor, ask the woman he loves for her hand and marriage and defeat the notorious Black Moth all at the same time. What a multitasker. I liked how the author portrayed her heriones in a different light then how they are today including the heroes of course.
tzinnamon More than 1 year ago
Some of the reviewers I've read at this site do not seem to be aware that Ms. Heyer brought the Duke back in a later book. In "These Old Shades" it is very easy to recognize that the Duke of Avon & the other protagonists are actually the characters from "The Black Moth" with different names about 20 yrs. down the timeline. "The Devil's Cub" is about the son of the Duke & his very unique wife, Leonie, from "These Old Shades". The son also appears briefly in "An Infamous Army". I have the paperbacks in sad condition from re-reading, & will be buying the ebooks as money becomes available. :-}
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could hardly put it down.
JayMT More than 1 year ago
doesn't have the complete ending as the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her research is well documented and copied by the writers who followed changing eras here and there but not the plots. There are not as many mysteries but classics all
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lcmschic More than 1 year ago
For all you Regency romance readers that love the period and all the details of life this is the Author for you. Her knowledge of the time period is unsurpassed. You get all the style and romance you want without the vivid sex scenes thrown in as filler.
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