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About the Author
Heyer published 56 books over the next 53 years, until her death from lung cancer in 1974. Heyer's large volume of works included Regency romances, mysteries and historical fiction. Known also as the Queen of Regency romance, Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy and her extraordinary plots and characterizations. Her last book, My Lord John, was published posthumously in 1975. She was married to George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and they had one son together, Richard.
Read an Excerpt
A Lady in Distress
It had begun to rain an hour ago, a fine driving mist with the sky grey above. The gentleman riding beside the chaise surveyed the clouds placidly. ‘Faith, it's a wonderful climate,' he remarked of no one in particular.
The grizzled serving man who rode some paces to the rear spurred up to him. ‘Best put up for the night, sir,' he grunted. ‘There's an inn a mile or two on.'
The window of the chaise was let down with a clatter, and a lady looked out. ‘Child, you'll be wet,' she said to her cavalier. ‘How far to Norman Cross?'
The serving man rode up close to the chaise. ‘Another hour, ma'am. I'm saying we'd best put up for the night.'
‘I'd as soon make Norman Cross,' said the gentleman, ‘for all it's plaguily damp.'
‘There's an inn close by, as I remember,' the servant repeated, addressing himself to the lady.
‘En avant, then. Produce me the inn,' the lady said. ‘Give you joy of your England, Peter my little man.'
The gentleman laughed. ‘Oh, it's a comforting spot, Kate.'
The inn came soon into sight, a square white house glimmering through the dusk. There were lights in the windows, and a post-chaise drawn up in the court before it.
The gentleman came lightly down from the saddle. He was of medium height, and carried himself well. He had a neat leg encased in a fine riding boot, and a slender hand in an embroidered gauntlet.
There was straightway a bustle at the inn. An ostler came running; mine host appeared in the porch with a bow and a scrape and a waiting man sped forth to assist in letting down the steps of the chaise.
‘Two bedchambers, for myself and my sister,' said the gentleman. ‘Dinner, and a private room.'
Consternation was in the landlord's face. ‘Bedchambers, sir. Yes on the instant! Polly, the two best bedchambers, and fires to be lit in them!' A serving maid went scuttling off. ‘Sir, the private room!' Mine host bowed, and spread a pair of deprecating hands. ‘But this moment, sir, it was bespoken by a lady and a gentleman travelling north.' He looked slyly, and cast down his eyes. ‘But they stay only for dinner, sir, and if your honour and the lady would condescend to the coffee-room? There's never a soul likely to come to-night, and 'twill be private enough.'
There was a rustle of skirts. My lady came down from the chaise with a hand on her servant's shoulder. ‘The coffee-room or any other so I get out of this wet!' she cried, and swept into the inn with her cavalier behind her.
They found themselves straight in a comfortable large room. There was a table set, and a wood fire burning in the hearth. A door led out into a passage at the back, where the stairs rose steeply, and another to one side, giving on to the taproom.
A trim girl in a mob cap brought more candles, and dropped a shy curtsey to the lady. ‘If you please, my lady, should I take your ladyship's cloak? Your ladyship's abigail...?'
‘Alack, the creature's not with me!' mourned Madam Kate. ‘Take the cloak up to my chamber, child. So!' She put back the hood from her head, and untied the strings round her throat. The cloak was given to the maid; Madam stood up in a taffety gown of blue spread over a wide hoop. She wore her fair ringlets en demie toilette, free from powder, with a blue ribbon threaded through, and a couple of curls allowed to fall over her shoulder. The maid thought her a prodigiously lovely lady and bobbed another curtsey before she went away with the cloak.
My lady's brother gave his three-cornered hat into his servant's keeping, and struggled out of his greatcoat. He was much of his sister's height, a little taller perhaps, and like enough to her in appearance. His hair was of a darker brown, confined demurely at the neck by a black riband; and his eyes showed more grey than blue in the candlelight. Young he seemed, for his cheek was innocent of all but the faintest down; but he had a square shoulder, and a good chin, rounded, but purposeful enough. The landlord, following him into the coffee-room, was profuse in apologies and obeisances, for he recognised a member of the Quality. The lady wore a fine silk gown, and Mr Merriot a modish coat of brown velvet, with gold lacing, and a quantity of Mechlin lace at his throat and wrists. A pretty pair, in all, with the easy ways of the Quality, and a humorous look about the eyes that made them much alike. The landlord began to talk of capons and his best burgundy, and was sent off to produce them.
Miss Merriot sat down by the fire, and stretched one foot in its buckled shoe to the blaze. There was a red heel to her shoe, and marvellous embroidered clocks to her silken stockings. ‘So!' said Miss Merriot. ‘How do you, my Peter?'
‘I don't melt in a shower of rain, I believe,' Peter said, and sat down on the edge of the table, swinging one booted leg.
‘No, faith, child, there's too much of you for that.'
The gentleman's rich chuckle sounded. ‘I'm sufficiently substantial, in truth,' he remarked. He drew out his gold and enamelled snuff-box from one of his huge coat pockets, and took a pinch with an air, delicately shaking the ruffles of lace back from his wrists. A ruby ring glowed on one of his long fingers, while on the other hand he wore a big gold seal ring. A smile crept up into his eyes, and lurked at the corners of his mouth. ‘I'd give something to know where the old gentleman is,' he said.
‘Safe enough, I'll be bound,' Madam answered, and laughed. ‘It's the devil himself, I believe, and will appear in London to snap his fingers under the noses of all King George's men.'
‘Fie, Kate: my poor, respected papa!' Mr Merriot was not shocked. He fobbed his snuff-box and put it away. A faint crease showed between his brows. ‘For all he named London egad, 'tis like his impudence! it's odds he's gone to France.'
‘I don't permit myself to hope too much,' said Miss Merriot, with a smile at once dreamy and a little impish. ‘He'll be there to lead us another of his mad dances. If not...I've a mind to try our own fortunes.'
‘In truth, I've a kindness for the old gentleman,' said Mr Merriot pensively. ‘His dances lead somewhere.'
‘To lost causes.' There was a hint of bitterness in the tone.
Mr Merriot looked up. ‘Ay, you've taken it to heart.'
‘Not I.' Kate jerked a shoulder as though to shake something off. ‘We went into it egad, why did we go into it?'
‘Ask the old gentleman,' said Mr Merriot, the slow smile creeping up again. ‘He had a loyal fervour, belike.'
Kate drew down the corners of her mouth. ‘It's a pleasing image. He meant it for a beau geste, I dare swear. And we? Well, I suppose we went willy nilly into the net.'
‘I don't regret it. The old gentleman meddled in Saxe's affairs, but we came out of that net.'
‘That was in the nature of adventuring. This ' Kate paused. ‘Bah, I hate lost causes! It was different.'
‘For you?' Mr Merriot lifted an eyebrow. ‘Did you want the Prince, child?'
‘We fought for him while it lasted. He had the right. But now it's over, and the Butcher's made a shambles of the North, and there are those who have died on Tower Hill, while we we try our fortunes, and the old gentleman weaves us a fresh net. I believe I'll turn respectable.'
‘Alack, we were made for sobriety!' said Mr Merriot.
Came the landlord, and a serving maid with dinner. Covers were laid, and a cork drawn. Miss Merriot and her brother sat down to fat capons and a generous pasty. They were left presently toying with sweetmeats and their wine. The maid bore off all that remained of the capons through the door that led into the passage. The door was left ajar and allowed a glimpse of another door, across the passageway. From behind it came the sound of a lady's voice raised in protest.
‘I won't, I tell you!' it said. ‘I won't!'
There came the sound of a deeper voice, half coaxing, half bullying; then the lady cried out again, on a hysterical note of panic. ‘I won't go with you! You sh-shan't elope with me against my will! Take me home! Oh please, Mr Markham, take me home!'
Miss Merriot looked at her brother. He got up, and went unhurriedly to the door, and stood listening.
The man's voice was raised now in anger. ‘By God, Letty, you shan't fool me like that!'
Following on a crash from behind the closed door as of a fist banged on the table, came a choked, imploring murmur.
‘No!' barked the man's voice. ‘If I have to gag you, to Gretna you'll go, Letty! D'you think I'm fool enough to let you slip through my fingers now?'
Mr Merriot turned his head. ‘My dear, I believe I don't like the noisy gentleman,' he said calmly.
Madam Kate listened to a cry of: ‘My papa will come! I won't marry you, oh, I won't!' and a faint frown was between her eyes.
There came the sound of a coarse laugh. Evidently the gentleman had been drinking. ‘I think you will,' he said significantly.
Miss Merriot bit one finger nail. ‘It seems we must interfere, my Peter.'
Peter looked rueful, and drew his sword a little way out of the scabbard.
‘No, no, child, put up!' said Madam, laughing. ‘We know a trick worth two of that. We must have the fox out of his earth, though.'
‘Stay you there,' said her brother, and went out into the courtyard, and called to John, his servant.
‘Who's the owner of the post-chaise, John?' inquired Mr Merriot.
The answer was severe. ‘It's a Mr Markham, sir, running off to Gretna with a rich heiress, so they say. And the lady not out of her teens. There's wickedness!'
‘John's propriety is offended,' murmured Miss Merriot. ‘We will dispose, John, since God seems unwilling. I want a stir made.'
‘Best not meddle,' said John phlegmatically. ‘We've meddled enough.'
‘A cry of fire,' mused Mr Merriot. ‘Fire or footpads. Where do I lie hid?'
‘Oh, are you with me already?' admired Kate. ‘Let me have a fire, John, or a parcel of daring footpads, and raise the ostlers.'
John fetched a sigh. ‘We've played that trick once before. Will you never be still?'
Mr Merriot laughed. ‘It's a beauty in distress, John, and Kate must be up and doing.'
A grunt only was vouchsafed, and the glimmering of a grim smile. John went out. Arose presently in the courtyard a shout, and a glow, and quickly uproar.
‘Now I wonder how he made that fire?' said Miss Merriot, amused.
‘There's a shed and some straw. Enough for John. Well, it's a fine stir.' Mr Merriot went to the window. ‘Mine host leads the household out in force. The wood's so damp 'twill be out in a moment. Do your part, sister.' Mr Merriot vanished into the deserted taproom.
Miss Merriot added then to the stir by a scream, close followed by another, and a cry of: ‘Fire, fire! Help, oh help!'
The door across the passage was burst open, and a dark gentleman strode out. ‘What in hell's name?' he began. His face was handsome in the swarthy style, but flushed now with wine. His eye lighted on Miss Merriot, and a smell of burning assailed his nostrils. ‘What's the noise? Gad, is the place on fire?' He came quickly into the coffee-room, and received Miss Merriot in his unwilling arms. Miss Merriot neatly tripped up her chair, and with a moan of ‘Save me!' collapsed onto Mr Markham's chest.
He grasped the limp form perforce, and found it a dead weight on his arm. His companion, a slim child of no more than eighteen, ran to the window. ‘Oh, 'tis only an old shed caught fire away to the right!' she said.
Mr Markham strove to restore the fainting Miss Merriot. ‘Compose yourself, madam! For God's sake, no vapours! There's no danger. Damnation, Letty, pick the chair up!'
Miss Letty came away from the window towards Miss Merriot's fallen chair. Mr Markham was tightly clasping that unconscious lady, wrath at his own helpless predicament adding to the already rich colour in his face.
‘The devil take the woman, she weighs a ton!' swore Mr Markham. ‘Pick the chair up, I say!'
Miss Letty bent to take hold of it. She heard a door open behind her, and turning saw Mr Merriot.
Of a sudden Miss Merriot came to life. In round-eyed astonishment Miss Letty saw that lady no longer inanimate, but seemingly struggling to be free.
Mr Merriot was across the floor in a moment.
‘Unhand my sister, sir!' cried he in a wonderful fury.
Miss Merriot was thrust off. ‘God's Life, 'twas herself ' began Mr Markham, but got no further. His chin came into sudden contact with Mr Merriot's sword hilt, nicely delivered, and Mr Markham fell heavily all amongst the table legs.
‘Oh, neatly done, i'faith!' vowed Miss Merriot. ‘Down like an ox, as I live! Set the coach forward, Peter, and you, child, upstairs with you to my chamber.'
Miss Letty's hand was caught in a firm clasp. Quite bewildered she was swirled away by the competent Miss Merriot.
Miss Merriot's brother put up his sword, and went out into the court. John seemed to rise up out of the gloom to meet him. ‘All well, sir?'
Mr Merriot nodded. ‘Where's the dear gentleman's chaise, John?'
John jerked a thumb over his shoulder.
‘Horses put to?' inquired Mr Merriot.
‘Ay, they're ready to be off. The men are in the taproom it's dry they are after the great fire. There's an ostler to the horses' heads.'
‘I don't want that ostler there,' said Mr Merriot. ‘Drive the chaise past Stilton, John, and hide it somewhere where the gentleman won't find it too soon.'
‘Hide a chaise and horses, is it?' John growled.
‘It is, John,' said Mr Merriot serenely. ‘Tell that ostler that I want a horse saddled on the instant. One of our own, if need be. I shall set the dear gentleman after you, John. God speed you.'
‘Ah, it's a mad couple you are!' said John, but he moved away to where the lights of the chaise shone. Mr Merriot heard him give the order to the ostler, and offer to hold the horses' heads. He heard the ostler run off towards the stables and himself turned back into the coffee-room smiling placidly.
Miss Merriot had come downstairs again and was standing by the fallen Mr Markham calmly surveying him. &lsuo;Well, child, is it done?' she asked.
The clatter of horses and the rumble of wheels on the cobbles answered her. John was off; they heard the chaise roll away down the road to London. Miss Merriot laughed and dropped her brother a mock curtsey. ‘My compliments, child. It's you have the head, indeed. Now what to do for the poor gentleman? Water, my Peter, and a napkin. Observe me all solicitude.' She sank down on to the floor, and lifted Mr Markham's head into her lap. Mr Merriot was chuckling again as he handed her the water, and a napkin.
The landlord came hurrying in, and stared in horror at what he saw. ‘Sir madam! The gentleman's coach is off! Oh law, madam! The gentleman!'
‘Off is it?' Mr Merriot was interested. ‘Tut, tut! And the lady in it, belike?'
The landlord's jaw dropped. ‘Ay, that would be it! But what's come to the gentleman, sir? Good lord, sir, never say '
‘The poor gentleman!' said Miss Merriot, holding a wet napkin to Mr Markham's brow. ‘'Twas the drink turned the head on his shoulders, I dare swear. An accident, host. I believe he won't die of it.'
‘A warning to all abductors,' said Mr Merriot piously.
A gleam of understanding shot into the landlord's eyes. ‘Sir, he'll be raving mad when he comes to.'
‘A warning to you, good fellow, not to be by,' said Mr Merriot.
There was significance in Mr Merriot's voice. It occurred to mine host that the less he knew of the matter the better it might be for himself, on all sides. He went out discreetly at what time Mr Markham gave vent to a faint groan.
Mr Markham came slowly back to consciousness, and opened heavy eyes. He did not at once remember much, but he was aware of a swollen jaw-bone which hurt him. A cool hand was placed on his brow, and something wet was laid on his sore chin. He rolled his eyes upwards, groaning, and saw a fair face bent over him, framed in golden ringlets. He stared up at it, trying to collect his bemused wits, and vaguely it seemed to him that he had seen that face before, with its fine, rather ironical blue eyes, and its curiously square chin. He blinked, and frowned in the effort to pull himself together, and saw the delicate mouth smile.
‘Thank God you are better!' came a cooing voice. ‘I have been in an agony! Dear sir, pray lie still; 'twas a cruel blow, and oh the misunderstanding! Peter, a glass of wine for the gentleman! There, sir, let me but raise your head.'
Mr Markham allowed it, perforce, and sipped at the wine held to his lips. Some of the mists were clearing from his brain. He raised himself on his elbow, and looked round.
‘Oh, you are much better!' cooed the voice. ‘But gently, sir. Don't, I implore you, overtax your strength.'
Mr Markham's gaze came to rest on a flowered waistcoat. He put a hand to his head, and his eyes travelled slowly up the waistcoat to Mr Merriot's grave face. Mr Merriot was on one knee, glass of wine in hand; Mr Merriot looked all concern.
Recollection came. ‘Burn it, you're the fellow ' Mr Markham's hand went to his jaw; he glared at Peter Merriot. ‘Did you By God, sir, did you ?'
‘Let me help you to a chair, sir,' said Mr Merriot gently. ‘In truth you are shaken, and no wonder. Sir, I cannot sufficiently beg your pardon.'
Mr Markham was on his feet now, dizzy and bewildered. ‘Was it you knocked me down, sir? Answer me that!' he panted.
‘Alas, sir, I did!' said Mr Merriot. ‘I came in to find my sister struggling, as I thought, in your arms. Can you blame me, sir? My action was the impulse of the moment.'
Mr Markham was put into a chair. He fought for words, a hand still held to his jaw. ‘Struggling? she flung herself at me in a swoon!' he burst out.
Miss Merriot was kneeling at his feet, napkin in hand. Mr Markham thrust it aside with an impotent snarl. ‘You have the right to be angry, sir,' sighed Miss Merriot. ‘'Twas all my folly, but oh sir, when the bustle started, and they were crying fire without I scarce knew what I did!' Her fair head was bent in modest confusion. Mr Markham did not heed her.
‘Blame you? blame you? Yes, sir, I can!' he said wrathfully. ‘A damnable little puppy to to ' Words failed him; he sat nursing his jaw and fuming.
Mr Merriot said haughtily: ‘You're heated sir, and I believe excusably. I don't heed what you say therefore. I have asked your pardon for a mistake understandable, I contend that I made.'
‘Puppy!' snapped Mr Markham, and drank off the rest of the wine in the glass. It seemed to restore him. He got up unsteadily and his hot gaze swept round again. ‘Letty!' he shot out. ‘Where is the girl?'
‘Dear sir, indeed you are not yourself yet!' Miss Merriot laid a soothing hand on his arm. ‘There is no girl here save myself.'
She was shaken off. ‘No girl, you say?' roared Mr Markham, and went blundering towards the room across the passage. ‘Letty!' he shouted. ‘Letty, I say! Hell and damnation, her cloak's gone!' He came back, his face dark with rage and suspicion, and caught at Mr Merriot's straight shoulder. ‘Out with it! Where is she? Where have you hidden her? You don't trick me, my fine sir!'
Miss Merriot, hovering watchfully, cast herself between them, and clung to her brother. ‘No, no!' she cried. ‘No swords, I do beseech you. Sir, you are raving! There is no girl here that I have seen.'
Mr Merriot put his sister aside. ‘But wait!' he said slowly. ‘As I remember there was a lady in the room as I came in. A child with black hair. My sister was overwrought, sir, and maybe forgets. Yes, there was a lady.' He looked round as though he expected to see her lurking in some corner.
‘Damme, it won't serve!' cried out the infuriated Mr Markham, and went striding off to the door that led into the taproom, calling loudly for the landlord.
Mine host came quickly, with an uneasy look in his face. In answer to Mr Markham's furious query he said nervously that in the scare of the fire someone had driven off with his worship's chaise, and he doubted but that the lady was in it.
Mr Markham swung round to face Peter Merriot again, and there came a red light into his eyes, while his hand fumbled at his sword hilt. ‘Ah, you're in this!' he snarled.
Mr Merriot paused in the act of taking snuff. ‘Your pardon, sir?' he asked in some surprise. ‘A lady gone off in your post-chaise, and myself in it? I don't understand you, sir. Who is the lady, and why should she go off so? Why, it's churlish of her, I protest.'
Mr Markham seemed undecided. ‘It's no business of yours,' he said savagely. ‘But if I find 'twas you did it. Which way did the chaise go?'
‘To towards London, sir,' nervously answered mine host. ‘But 'tis only what Tom says. I didn't see myself, and indeed, sir '
Mr Markham said something between his teeth at which mine host cast a horrified glance at Miss Merriot. The lady appeared to be unmoved. ‘Saddle me a horse at once! Where's my hat?'
Light dawned on Mr Merriot. ‘Egad, it's a runaway, Kate. Faith, sir, it seems my er impetuosity was indeed ill-timed. A horse, of course! You should be up with the chaise soon enough. A horse for the gentleman!' Mr Merriot swept out into the court, bearing mine host before him.
‘It's ready saddled, sir, but Tom says the gentleman ordered it half an hour since,' said the puzzled landlord.
‘Saddled and ready, eh? Then see it brought round to the door, for the gentleman's in a hurry.'
‘Yes, sir, but how came it that the horse was bespoke when the gentleman was a-laying like one dead?'
‘Bespoke? A ruse, man, a ruse, and your man in madam's pay very like. Best keep your mouth shut. Ah, behold the bereft gentleman!'
Mr Markham came stamping out with his hat rammed over his nose, and managed to hoist himself into the saddle with the assistance of two scared ostlers. He gathered the bridle up, and turned to glare down upon Mr Merriot. ‘I'll settle with you later,' he promised ferociously, and setting spurs to his horse dashed off into the darkness.
Miss Merriot came out to lay a hand on her brother's shoulder. ‘The dear gentleman!' she remarked. ‘Very well, child, but what next?'
Table of Contents
One: A Lady in Distress
Two: Arrival of a Large Gentleman
Three: My Lady Lowestoft
Four: Mistress Prudence to Herself
Five: Sir Humphrey Grayson Waits Upon Mr Merriot
Six: The Polite World Receives Mr and Miss Merriot
Seven: A Taste of a Large Gentleman's Temper
Eight: The Black Domino
Nine: Mohocks Abroad
Ten: Sudden and Startling Appearance of the Old Gentleman
Eleven: My Lord Barham in Arlington Street
Twelve: Passage of Arms Between Prudence and Sir Anthony
Thirteen: Encounter at White's
Fourteen: My Lord Barham Becomes Mysterious
Fifteen: Challenge to Mr Merriot
Sixteen: Unaccountable Behaviour of Sir Anthony Fanshawe
Seventeen: Sad Falling Out of Friends
Eighteen: The Large Gentleman is Awake
Nineteen: Meeting in Arlington Street
Twenty: Ingenuity of my Lord Barham
Twenty-one: Proceedings of Mr Markham
Twenty-two: Tortuous Methods of my Lord Barham
Twenty-three: The Fight By Moonlight
Twenty-four: Return of Miss Grayson
Twenty-five: Mystery of the Masked Man
Twenty-six: Arrest of Mr Merriot
Twenty-seven: Violence on the King's High Road
Twenty-eight: Exit Miss Merriot
Twenty-nine: The Ride Through the Night
Thirty: Triumph of Lord Barham
Thirty-one: The Honourable Robin Tremaine
Thirty-two: Journey's End
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is my second Georgette Heyer book—the first one I read was the fabulous and hilarious The Grand Sophy—and The Masqueraders, narrated by the animated voice of Ruth Stillers, is a delightful, funny, and energetic historical intrigue. I agreed to review this romance not knowing anything about its plot at all. And, as a result, I have to admit that I was confused as to who was who at first in this story of disguise and mystery. Following the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, Prudence and Robin Tremaine, devoted and quick-witted sister and brother, have fled France for England disguised respectively as a young man and young woman: Peter and Kate Merriot. They await further instructions from their father, the brazen and supremely confident “Old Gentleman,” (Prue and Robin’s tongue-in-cheek endearment for him) and live their lives on the edge, fearing discovery at every turn. But both are so elegant, refined, and smart that their adventures and mishaps are engrossing to read and make for a pleasing and captivating story. We’re thrown right into the brash adventures of these witty siblings when they save the very young and high-strung Lady Letitia Grayson from an unwanted elopement with her erstwhile fiancé, the insidious Mr. Markham.* The voice that Ruth Stillers gives Markham is fantastically over-the-top and most appropriate to the villain he is while Letitia’s hapless and helpless maiden is also spot-on and teeters on the farcical, but in a good way. This rescue scene sets the tone for wild madcap fun that infuses the entire story from beginning to end; it’s a joy to listen to. The frequent descriptions of Sir Anthony Fanshawe, a friend of Letitia’s who comes to her rescue, as a “large gentleman,” almost becomes a running joke between Prue and Robin. Fanshawe is a consummate and observant gentleman who quickly figures out that Peter Merriot is actually a woman. The romance between him and Prudence is sweet, considerate, and mature but I had a hard time believing that the intelligent Robin could fall for the empty-headed Letitia. But perhaps he is simply a man of his time falling for a pretty face, and Letitia is the perfectly innocent and kindhearted young lady. Ruth Stillers is a new narrator to me and I truly enjoyed her lovely interpretation. Her light and sweet voice lends the perfect sparkle and verve to this lively historical romp with all its theatricality, at times serious, at other times witty, which often made me smile in amusement. This is why I read historical romance. It’s a great tribute to Stillers as an actress to be able to read so many different characters with distinction and great personality, of both sexes, especially the challenging dual character personas of Robin and Prudence as Kate and Peter Merriot. This audiobook is a real treat for all lovers of Regency historical romance. *I just finished reading about an entirely different and delightful Markham in Juliana Gray’s How to School Your Scoundrel. A modified version of this review first appeared on Romantic Historical Reviews.
I've become a big Heyer fan recently, and this one did not disappoint my high expectations. I truly love a heroine who can keep her head in any emergency, and that describes Prue to a T. Sir Anthony is a pleasing hero, too, whose love for the heroine is founded on respect and admiration for her courage and wits. Overall this was a very satisfying read.
As with all Georgette Heyer books, the plot was clever and the characters lively with a thread of romance throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend this author.
Published in 1928 and one of Georgette Heyer's earlier novels, The Masqueraders introduces us to the incomparable brother and sister pair known as Prudence and Robin Merriot. The book opens late one evening, with Prudence and Robin escaping the weather at an inn in the middle of nowhere. They overhear a young girl pleading with an aggressive suitor. It quickly becomes apparent while the young heiress may have willingly chosen to run off with the young man, Letty Grayson has had a change of heart. The suitor is enamored of her beautiful looks and large fortune and does not intend to let her go. Prudence and Robin quickly devise and execute a daring rescue plan. When Miss Grayson's rescuer Sir Tony Fanshawe arrives on the scene shortly thereafter, Prudence and Robin have the situation well in hand. Letty Grayson considers Tony to be the man her father would choose for her and dismisses him as staid and respectable. But the astute Prudence sees something special in Sir Tony Fanshawe. And Letty Grayson finds a mysterious hero in Robin. While Robin and Prudence decide to spend some time in London with their new friends, they are constrained by their past adventures. As their father's mistakes and their escapades threaten to expose them, Prudence and Tony are aware that this time the stakes are painfully high and they are both in danger of losing their hearts. With Prudence dressing as a young boy and Robin dressing as a young girl, the many costume changes, the small deceptions, the abductions, and the threat of exposure, this is a fun escape. Georgette Heyer's The Masqueraders is the sort of lighthearted comedy that I thoroughly enjoy. ISBN-10: 1402219504 Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca; Reprint edition (December 1, 2009), 336 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
What's the fastest way for a brother and sister on the run to shake off pursuit? Why, switch places, of course! Prudence and Robin Tremaine are masters of disguise, and they both need all their wits about them to pull off their most recent masquerade: Prudence as a dashing young man, and Robin as the lovely young sister.Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it seems, but that's more than half the fun! This was my first experience with Georgette Heyer's work, and it was absolutely delightful. Fascinating characters, intricate plots within plots within plots, and a goodly dash of romance. I have to admit, however, that I wanted to soundly shake the "old gentleman" on more than one occasion. He was far too pleased with himself for it to be healthy.
Born to a father set on having adventures, Prudence and Robin Tremaine have lived a life on the run. They constantly are moving (often fleeing) from one place to another, and often have to do so in disguise. After Robin and his father take part in the failed Jacobite rebellion they split up and flee into the country side. Robin meets up with his sister, who stayed out of it, and they decide to swap genders to thoroughly hide Robin in the last place anyone will ever look ¿ in a set of petticoats ¿ to prevent him from being hanged. Prudence then becomes Mr Peter Marriot and Robin becomes Miss Kate Marriot.Together they travel to London and hope to meet up with their father there. That¿s when they meet Sir Anthony and Letitia, Letty is currently attempting to elope with a Mr Markham only to find that he is a brute and not worth marrying, her attempt to change his mind on this score proves dangerous though. With the siblings help (a false swoon by ¿Kate¿ and a swift uppercut with the hilt of a sword by ¿Peter¿) they rescue Letty and restore her to Sir Anthony, a friend of her father¿s. In that meeting ¿Kate¿, er, Robin falls hopelessly in love with Letty and ¿Peter¿, er, Prudence falls hopelessly in love with Sir Anthony. Now, in true Georgette Heyer fashion, the stage is set for a romp unlike any other!This book was one of her earlier works and that definitely comes across in her writing. Her characters, her plot development, and her dialogue is just not as refined and well done, and that little extra twist of humor seems to be missing here. It is a wonderful book though and if I didn't have her later works to compare it with this book would have been wonderful all on its own.I loved reading about a female masquerading as a male credibly and showing that a woman can operate and work in the male environment just as smoothly as if she had been born to it if given half a chance. Prudence is admitted to a gentleman's club, smokes, drinks, takes snuff, plays cards, gambles, and gets into a street fight (through no fault of her own). Robin meanwhile is stuck going out on drives with old ladies, visiting with female friends (one in particular), and sits around in petticoats hiding yawns behind a fan. It is soon realized though that they are not managing to hood wink everyone and that's when things really start to take off.Their father appears in town and it appears that he is going for the biggest charade of them all. He is going to aim for settling down permanently and to do that he is claiming to be a long lost brother to a dead viscount and to claim the man's title. Can he do it? Will he convince the lawyers, the courts, and all of London that he is who he claims to be? And how is he going to get his children un gender switched and admitted to Society creditably?Any fan of historical romance would love this book to pieces. Especially if you enjoy adventures, sword fights, daring rescues and lots of intrigue. Seeing a female in a sword fight, and a male flirting in a dress are just perks to this ridiculously wonderful book. You won't regret reading it.Favorite Quote: Mr Merriot cocked an eyebrow at Kate, and said: - "Well, my dear, and did you kiss her good-night?" Miss Merriot kicked off her shoes, and replied in kind. "What, are you parted from the large gentleman already?" Mr Merriot looked into the fire, and a slow smile came, and the suspicion of a blush. "Lord, child!" said Miss Merriot. "Are you for the mammoth? It's a most respectable gentleman, my dear." Mr Merriot raised his eyes. "I believe I would not choose to cross him," he remarked inconsequently. "But I would trust him." Miss Merriot began to laugh. "Be a man, my Peter, I implore you." "Alack!" sighed Mr Merriot, "I feel all a woman."
The other overlooked book is The Masqueraders, also by Georgette Heyer. I liked this one better than April Lady, though it is a wildly improbable story. Perhaps because it is so over the top unbelievable and the protagonists are rather more clever than clueless, I found it more worthwhile. This features Prudence and Robin, siblings on the run after the failed Jacobite rebellion (of 1746 I believe). That makes this story much earlier than the Regency period that I am more familiar with. This is the era of wigs, powdered hair, rouge and patches, corsets, hoop skirts, and duels. Cross-dressing siblings who hide in plain sight among high society in London while awaiting the arrival of their father the inveterate intriguer--what could be better? Their father is the perfect example of feelings of grandiosity experienced during manic episodes or megalomania generally. That doesn't stop him from being a charmer and keeping even his own children guessing. This is a cross between a double-romance (brother and sister both conveniently find their loves at the same time) and high adventure with the requisite villains. Don't look for character development. Between the action and the dialogue there's no room for character growth. It's got kidnapping, swordfights, drinking, gaming, a long-lost heir, multiple denouements, what more can one ask for?
Though usually put off by gender-equality-by-numbers devices like dressing women in breeches, and in the minority of readers who never took to Georgette Heyer, I found this a neat, enjoyable story.
My first [Heyer] novel--from high school, no less. Maybe not one of her absolute best, but right up there. It started me on the Regency way!
i wish i could give this book 10 stars! i dont normally like stories where the heros switch dress , but this book is deligthful.please read this book .you will love every last bit of it.
This is my third favorite Georgette Heyer, after These Old Shades and Devil's Cub. I loved it as much reading it again as I did the first time (you can't say that about many books)!!! The interplay between the characters was as deft and sparkling as a Shakespearian comedy (or at times, good swordplay), and - oh! - the unmasking at the end (in more ways than one!) - absolutely delightful!
plot here is almost more important than character, except for "the old gentleman", and , boy is he a character! Masquerading as members of the opposite sex, a Zorro- type figure who appears when needed, and 2 romantic couples make this a good read. And who really IS the old gentleman?
Heyer is a fantastic writer,ive enjoyed her books for 50 yrs and am so pleased,that i can now have them on e books,my paperbacks are getting pretty ragged,thank you for digitizing the oldies......