Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is the eighth book by Georgette Heyer I’ve had the pleasure of reading, but it is actually the first one she published – at the age of 19! In her literary debut, Georgette Heyer introduced readers to Lord Jack Carstares, eldest son of the Earl of Wyncham. Six years ago Jack’s honor and reputation were severely damaged when he admitted to cheating at cards. Did he cheat at cards? No, but he took the blame to protect his younger brother, Richard. Knowing he is a social pariah, Jack can’t return home and claim his title as Earl of Wyncham (even though it is now available). Instead he spends time traveling abroad in Europe and reveling about in the disguise of a highwayman.
One day, while preparing to do some highway robbery, Jack happens upon an abduction scheme in progress. Being the heroic and honorable man he is (yes, even though he is a highwayman!), Jack comes to the fair lady’s rescue. The beauty he rescues, Diana Beauleigh, steals his heart and makes Jack wish he was free to marry her, but alas he cannot because of his dishonorable reputation. Never has Jack wanted to undo the past more. But little does he know, his brother feels the exact same way…
I have been enjoying Georgette Heyer’s novel for several years now and have come to love her colorful characters, witty dialogue, and invigorating plots. What I loved most about The Black Moth was seeing that these Georgette Heyer trademarks were established and present in her very first published work! The Black Moth had some engaging and entertaining characters and the dialogue was snappy and smart. However, since this story focused more on the relationship between the two brothers, I wouldn’t say this is her most romantic work. Being the romantic that I am I would have loved more romance, but I found myself appreciating the journey these two brothers take – one full of cowardice and regret, the other buried in a life of dishonor and disguise. I greatly enjoyed witnessing their loyalty and love for one another.
But as to the romance, I greatly enjoyed the sweet story between our hero and heroine, even though I wish both received more page time. I love how Jack is unflinchingly honorable and has this whole Robin-Hood-type-of-heroism going on. And Miss Diana Beauleigh easily won my heart with her sweet character and unaffected devotion. I especially loved her “unmaidenly” conversation with Jack!
In true Georgette Heyer fashion there are daring schemes, priceless misunderstandings, and brave rescues. Readers who like a bit of action and swashbuckling in their stories will be pleased to know that there is a detailed sword-fighting scene. And the verbal sword-play between these characters is just as exhilarating! I continuously found myself marveling at how effortless, succinct, and natural the dialogue felt throughout the course of this novel. This is even more impressive knowing it is Georgette Heyer’s first novel and that she was writing about characters who lived in England over 150 years before her time.
While this book may not be many readers’ favorite Georgette Heyer novel and doesn’t have the most plausible or satisfying of resolutions, it is definitely one all Georgette Heyer fans should read! Just for the appreciation of Georgette Heyer’s talent alone.