The Black Moth is Georgette Heyer's first novel, written when she was 17 years old to amuse her sick brother. It features Jack Carstaresan Earl turned highwaymanand his enemythe enigmatic Duke of Andoverwho 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.
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"Reading Georgette Heyer is the next best thing to reading Jane Austen."
"Wonderful characters, elegant, witty writing, perfect period detail, and rapturously romantic. Georgette Heyer achieves what the rest of us only aspire to."
New York Times Book Review
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.64(d)|
About the Author
London native Georgette Heyer (1902–74) was among her generation's most prominent writers of historical romances. Inspired by Jane Austen, she frequently set her stories in the Regency period. Starting at the age of 17 with The Black Moth, she wrote several dozen books, including detective fiction and thrillers.
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The Black Moth
By Georgette Heyer
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2017 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
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 being 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.
He was ushered into a low-ceilinged, pleasant chamber looking out on to the quiet street, and left alone what time Mr. Chadber went in search of Sir Anthony.
The room was panelled and ceilinged in oak, with blue curtains to the windows and blue cushions on the high-backed settle by the fire. A table stood in the centre of the floor, with a white table-cloth thereon and places laid for two. Another smaller table stood by the fireplace, together with a chair and a stool.
The lawyer took silent stock of his surroundings, and reflected grimly on the landlord's sudden change of front. It would appear that Sir Anthony was a gentleman of some standing at the Chequers.
Yet the little man was plainly unhappy, and fell to pacing to and fro, his chin sunk low on his breast, and his hands clasped behind his back. He was come to seek the disgraced son of an Earl, and he was afraid of what he might find.
Six years ago Lord John Carstares, eldest son of the Earl of Wyncham, had gone with his brother, the Hon. Richard, to a card party, and had returned a dishonoured man.
That Jack Carstares should cheat was incredible, ridiculous, and at first no one had believed the tale that so quickly spread. But he had confirmed that tale himself, defiantly and without shame, before riding off, bound, men said, for France and the foreign parts. Brother Richard was left, so said the countryside, to marry the lady they were both in love with. Nothing further had been heard of Lord John, and the outraged Earl forbade his name to be mentioned at Wyncham, swearing to disinherit the prodigal. Richard espoused the fair Lady Lavinia and brought her to live at the great house, strangely forlorn now without Lord John's magnetic presence; but, far from being an elated bridegroom, he seemed to have brought gloom with him from the honeymoon, so silent and so unhappy was he.
Six years drifted slowly by without bringing any news of Lord John, and then, two months ago, journeying from London to Wyncham, Richard's coach had been waylaid, and by a highwayman who proved to be none other than the scapegrace peer.
Richard's feelings may be imagined. Lord John had been singularly unimpressed by anything beyond the humour of the situation. That, however, had struck him most forcibly, and he had burst out into a fit of laughter that had brought a lump into Richard's throat, and a fresh ache to his heart.
Upon pressure John had given his brother the address of the inn, "in case of accidents", and told him to ask for "Sir Anthony Ferndale" if ever he should need him. Then with one hearty handshake, he had galloped off into the darkness....
The lawyer stopped his restless pacing to listen. Down the passage was coming the tap-tap of high heels on the wooden floor, accompanied by a slight rustle as of stiff silks.
The little man tugged suddenly at his cravat. Supposing — supposing debonair Lord John was no longer debonair? Supposing — he dared not suppose anything. Nervously he drew a roll of parchment from his pocket and stood fingering it.
A firm hand was laid on the door-handle, turning it cleanly round. The door opened to admit a veritable apparition, and was closed again with a snap.
The lawyer found himself gazing at a slight, rather tall gentleman who swept him a profound bow, gracefully flourishing his smart three-cornered hat with one hand and delicately clasping cane and perfumed handkerchief with the other. He was dressed in the height of the Versailles fashion, with full-skirted coat of palest lilac laced with silver, smallclothes and stockings of white, and waistcoat of flowered satin. On his feet he wore shoes with high red heels and silver buckles, while a wig of the latest mode, marvellously powdered and curled and smacking greatly of Paris, adorned his shapely head. In the foaming lace of his cravat reposed a diamond pin, and on the slim hand, half covered by drooping laces, glowed and flashed a huge emerald.
The lawyer stared and stared again, and it was not until a pair of deep blue, rather wistful eyes met his in a quizzical glance, that he found his tongue. Then a look of astonishment came into his face, and he took a half step forward.
"Master Jack!" he gasped. "Master — Jack!"
The elegant gentleman came forward and held up a reproving hand. The patch at the corner of his mouth quivered, and the blue eyes danced.
"I perceive that you are not acquainted with me, Mr. Warburton," he said, amusement in his pleasant, slightly drawling voice. "Allow me to present myself: Sir Anthony Ferndale, à vous servir!"
A gleam of humour appeared in the lawyer's own eyes as he clasped the outstretched hand.
"I think you are perhaps not acquainted with yourself, my lord," he remarked drily.
Lord John laid his hat and cane on the small table, and looked faintly intrigued.
"What's your meaning, Mr. Warburton?"
"I am come, my lord, to inform you that the Earl, your father, died a month since."
The blue eyes widened, grew of a sudden hard, and narrowed again.
"Is that really so? Well, well! Apoplexy, I make no doubt?"
The lawyer's lips twitched uncontrollably.
"No, Master Jack; my lord died of heart failure."
"Say you so? Dear me! But will you not be seated, sir? In a moment my servant will have induced the chef to serve dinner. You will honour me, I trust?"
The lawyer murmured his thanks and sat down on the settle, watching the other with puzzled eyes.
The Earl drew up a chair for himself and stretched his foot to the fire.
"Six years, eh? I protest 'tis prodigious good to see your face again, Mr. Warburton. ... And I'm the Earl? Earl and High Toby, by Gad!" He laughed softly.
"I have here the documents, my lord...."
Carstares eyed the roll through his quizzing glass.
"I perceive them. Pray return them to your pocket, Mr. Warburton."
"But there are certain legal formalities, my lord — — —"
"Exactly. Pray do not let us mention them!"
Then the Earl smiled, and his smile was singularly sweet and winning.
"At least, not until after dinner, Warburton! Instead, you shall tell me how you found me?"
"Mr. Richard directed me where to come, sir."
"Ah, of course! I had forgot that I told him my — pied-à-terre when I waylaid him."
The lawyer nearly shuddered at this cheerful, barefaced mention of his lordship's disreputable profession.
"Er — indeed, sir. Mr. Richard is eager for you to return."
The handsome young face clouded over. My lord shook his head.
"Impossible, my dear Warburton. I am convinced Dick never voiced so foolish a suggestion. Come now, confess! 'tis your own fabrication?"
Warburton ignored the bantering tone and spoke very deliberately.
"At all events, my lord, I believe him anxious to make — amends."
Carstares shot an alert, suspicious glance at him.
"Yes, sir. Amends."
My lord studied his emerald with half-closed eyelids.
"But why — amends, Warburton?" he asked.
"Is not that the word, sir?"
"I confess it strikes me as inapt. Doubtless I am dull of comprehension. "
"You were not wont to be, my lord."
"No? But six years changes a man, Warburton. Pray, is Mr. Carstares well?"
"I believe so, sir," replied the lawyer, frowning at the deft change of subject.
"And Lady Lavinia?"
"Ay." Mr. Warburton looked searchingly across at him, seeing which, my lord's eyes danced afresh, brim full with mischief.
"I am delighted to hear it. Pray present my compliments to Mr. Carstares and beg him to use Wyncham as he wills."
"Sir! Master Jack! I implore you!" burst from the lawyer, and he sprang up, moving excitedly away, his hands twitching, his face haggard.
My lord stiffened in his chair. He watched the other's jerky movements anxiously, but his voice when he spoke was even and cold.
Mr. Warburton wheeled and came back to the fireplace, looking hungrily down at my lord's impassive countenance. With an effort he seemed to control himself.
"Master Jack, I had better tell you what you have already guessed. I know."
Up went one haughty eyebrow.
"You know what, Mr. Warburton?"
"That you are innocent!"
"Of what, Mr. Warburton?"
"Of cheating at cards, sir!"
My lord relaxed, and flicked a speck of dust from his great cuff.
"I regret the necessity of having to disillusion you, Mr. Warburton."
"My lord, do not fence with me, I beg! You can trust me, surely?"
"Then do not keep up this pretence with me; no, nor look so hard neither! I've watched you grow up right from the cradle, and Master Dick too, and I know you both through and through. I know you never cheated at Colonel Dare's nor anywhere else! I could have sworn it at the time — ay, when I saw Master Dick's face, I knew at once that he it was who had played foul, and you had but taken the blame!"
"I know better! Can you, Master Jack, look me in the face and truthfully deny what I have said? Can you? Can you?"
My lord sat silent.
With a sigh, Warburton sank on to the settle once more. He was flushed, and his eyes shone, but he spoke calmly again.
"Of course you cannot. I have never known you lie. You need not fear I shall betray you. I kept silence all these years for my lord's sake, and I will not speak now until you give me leave."
"Which I never shall."
"Master Jack, think better of it, I beg of you! Now that my lord is dead — — —"
"It makes no difference."
"No difference? 'Twas not for his sake? 'Twas not because you knew how he loved Master Dick?"
"Then 'tis Lady Lavinia — — —"
"But — — —"
My lord smiled sadly.
"Ah, Warburton! And you averred you knew us through and through! For whose sake should it be but his own?"
"I feared it!" The lawyer made a hopeless gesture with his hands. "You will not come back?"
"No, Warburton, I will not; Dick can manage my estates. I remain on the road."
Warburton made one last effort.
"My lord!" he cried despairingly. "Will you not at least think of the disgrace to the name an you be caught?"
The shadows vanished from my lord's eyes.
"Mr. Warburton, I protest you are of a morbid turn of mind! Do you know, I had not thought of so unpleasant a contingency? I swear I was not born to be hanged!"
The lawyer would have said more, had not the entrance of a servant carrying a loaded tray, put an end to all private conversation. The man placed dishes upon the table, lighted candles, and arranged two chairs.
"Dinner is served, sir," he said.
My lord nodded and made a slight gesture toward the windows. Instantly the man went over to them and drew the heavy curtains across.
My lord turned to Mr. Warburton.
"What say you, sir? Shall it be burgundy or claret, or do you prefer sack?"
Warburton decided in favour of claret.
"Claret, Jim," ordered Carstares, and rose to his feet.
"I trust the drive has whetted your appetite, Warburton, for honest Chadber will be monstrous hurt an you do not justice to his capons."
"I shall endeavour to spare his feelings," replied the lawyer with a twinkle, and seated himself at the table.
Whatever might be Mr. Chadber's failings, he possessed an excellent cook. Mr. Warburton dined very well, beginning on a fat duck, and continuing through the many courses that constituted the meal.
When the table was cleared, the servant gone, and the port before them, he endeavoured to guide the conversation back into the previous channels. But he reckoned without my lord, and presently found himself discussing the Pretender's late rebellion. He sat up suddenly.
"There were rumours that you were with the Prince, sir."
Carstares set down his glass in genuine amazement.
"Indeed, yes. I do not know whence the rumour came, but it reached Wyncham. My lord said nought, but I think Mr. Richard hardly credited it."
"I should hope not! Why should they think me turned rebel, pray?"
Mr. Warburton frowned.
"Rebel, Mr. Warburton. I have served under his Majesty."
"The Carstares were ever Tories, Master Jack, true to their rightful king."
"My dear Warburton, I owe nought to the Stuart princes. I was born in King George the First's reign, and I protest I am a good Whig."
Warburton shook his head disapprovingly.
"There has never been a Whig in the Wyncham family, sir."
"And you hope there never will be again, eh? What of Dick? Is he faithful to the Pretender?"
"I think Mr. Richard does not interest himself in politics, sir."
Carstares raised his eyebrows, and there fell a silence.
After a minute or two Mr. Warburton cleared his throat.
"I — I suppose, sir — you have no idea of — er — discontinuing your — er — profession?"
My lord gave an irrepressible little laugh.
"Faith, Mr. Warburton, I've only just begun!"
"Only — — — But a year ago, Mr. Richard — — —"
"I held him up? Aye, but to tell the truth, sir, I've not done much since then!"
"Then, sir, you are not — er — notorious?"
"Good gad, no! Notorious, forsooth! Confess, Warburton, you thought me some heroic figure? 'Gentleman Harry', perhaps?"
"Well, sir — — — I — er — wondered."
"I shall have to disappoint you, I perceive. I doubt Bow Street has never heard of me — and — to tell the truth —'tis not an occupation which appeals vastly to my senses."
Excerpted from The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. Copyright © 2017 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
I. AT THE CHEQUERS INN, FALLOWFIELD
II. MY LORD AT THE WHITE HART
III. INTRODUCING THE HON. RICHARD CARSTARES
IV. INTRODUCING THE LADY LAVINIA CARSTARES
V. HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER
VI. BATH: 29 QUEEN SQUARE
VII. INTRODUCING SUNDRY NEW CHARACTERS
VIII. THE BITER BIT
IX LADY O'HARA INTERVENES
X LADY O'HARA RETIRES
XI. MY LORD TURNS RESCUER AND COMES NIGH ENDING HIS LIFE
XII. MY LORD DICTATES A LETTER AND RECEIVES A VISITOR
XIII. MY LORD MAKES HIS BOW
XIV. MISTRESS DIANA IS UNMAIDENLY
XV. O'HARA'S MIND IS MADE UP
XVI. MR. BETTISON PROPOSES
XVII. LADY O'HARA WINS HER POINT
XVIII. ENTER CAPTAIN HAROLD LOVELACE
XIX. THE REAPPEARANCE OF HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER
XX. HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER TAKES A HAND IN THE GAME
XXI. MRS. FANSHAWE LIGHTS A FIRE AND O'HARA FANS THE FLAME
XXIII. LADY LAVINIA GOES TO THE PLAY
XXIV. RICHARD PLAYS THE MAN
XXV. HIS GRACE OF ANDOVER CAPTURES THE QUEEN
XXVI. MY LORD RIDES TO FRUSTRATE HIS GRACE
XXVII. MY LORD ENTERS BY THE WINDOW
XXVIII. IN WHICH WHAT THREATENED TO BE TRAGEDY TURNS TO COMEDY
XXIX. LADY O'HARA IS TRIUMPHANT
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. :-}
Could hardly put it down.
doesn't have the complete ending as the book
This was Heyer's first novel. Evidently it started out as a story she told her brother while he was sick. Her father suggested she write it down and sell it. She did.This a first book, but it is good. Heyer has not quite fully developed her characters and wit in this one. There is a bunch of sword fighting though! I enjoyed it.
Heyer's first novel, written as a teen, is an excellent novel with a cast of endearing characters. While This novel is not as deep or filled with prose as her later Regency Novels, I believe The Black Moth is a must read.
The Black Moth is perhaps a little more my style than Arabella. The heroine Diana is young and virtuous, like Arabella, but not quite as clueless. And her troubles are thanks to a villain--the Duke of Andover, known as Devil--rather than her own actions. But this story is less about Diana and far more about our hero Jack, who has been estranged from his family for several years, ever since he took the fall for his brother for cheating at cards--practically a hanging offense in polite society. He's making a living as a highwayman on the byways of England, having returned from living on the continent, when he interrupts an abduction. Yes, of course, the Devil and Diana. The story is also about Jack's younger brother Richard, who married Andover's sister, who has struggled (with guilt and shame) all these years between sacrificing his marriage and his brother. Then there's Sir Miles and his wife. All in all, an engaging cast of characters, lots of interesting dialogue, swordfights, chases, impersonations, and self-sacrificing honorableness and other impediments to True Love. This is the first story that Georgette Heyer ever wrote, while she was still a teenager. It's a keeper, particularly as it is part of the Alistair family collection, along with These Old Shades and Devil's Cub.
I was expecting a light fluffy read, but was surprised with the beautiful descriptions, witty dialogue and compelling plot. Wonderful trip to a time when honor was everything.
Georgette Heyer has combined historical background with believable characters, and a compelling plot in this, her first novel. Keep reading her books, they are all worth the time.
An excellent depiction or the regency period of the British upper class and its mores and social class values. It is impressive that the author wrote this at the age of 14.
Written for her ill brother, Georgette Heyer started her literary legacy at the age of 18. What a fun read! All of the characters are a delight - even the 'villain.' I have read this book at least 7 times over the years and consider it an old friend. Read it and you will be hooked on Georgette's world.
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
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.