Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The beautiful and penniless Arabella Tallant is about to make her London debut, thanks to the kind of generous invitation of her wealthy, widowed godmother. As the eldest daughter of a small country clergyman with seven other siblings, it is Arabella’s responsibility to marry a wealthy man that will help her support her brothers and sisters in obtaining prosperous futures. The families’ hopes rest on Arabella – after all she couldn’t possibly “be so beautiful for nothing.” 😉
However, in a moment of pique and impulsivity, Arabella makes a thoughtless decision that threatens to ruin her chances of ever finding an eligible match. Wanting to deliver a set down to the arrogant Mr. Beauramis (who had the gall to assume Arabella was chasing him for his fortune!), Arabella poses as a vastly wealthy heiress trying to escape unwanted attention from numerous fortune hunters. Little does she know that she is in the company of the Mr. Beauramis, the Nonpareil, the man whose fashions and habits are forever copied and approval and company so eagerly sought.
Never expecting her “little deception” to become such a tangled web, Arabella is in the awkward situation of receiving many marriage proposals, but all by suitors with pockets-to-let. Her conscience and fear of ruin forbid her from accepting any of these suitors. And while Mr. Beauramis thought he would simply amuse himself with taking an “unknown provincial” and elevating her “to the heights of society,” he never expected that he – the most sought after bachelor of the ton – would get caught in her web…
Oh, brace your hearts, readers! Robert Beauramis is an adorable and admirable hero that will make you swoon! While the ton may know him to be illustrious, elite, and reserved, deep down he is generous, considerate, and noble. He is a capable hero – a man of action – who isn’t afraid to do more than his duty, His charity towards Arabella and her “rescues” won my heart. But best of all is his relationship and conversations with Ulysses – a devoted mongrel who he is forced to house by Arabella. Loved how in-depth and humorous their exchanges were (especially when discussing Arabella) – utterly brilliant!
As a devoted admirer of all things Austenesque, I was quite elated to find so many nods and allusions to Jane Austen novels in this particular Heyer read – there seemed a quite bit more than usual. 🙂 There are some parallels between Arabella Tallant and Catherine Moreland, who both come from very large and poor families, and find themselves experiencing their first adventures in an exciting metropolis. Mr. Beauramis and Mr. Darcy share some traits as well, with their fortunes, eligibility, and habit of voicing offending remarks within earshot of the young woman being insulted. I also delighted in spotting some lovely allusions to Jane Austen quotes ingeniously peppered throughout the tale as well:
“It is customary, you know, to exchange polite conversation during the dance.” – Mr. Beauramis page 128
“If your sentiments should undergo a change, one word – one look! – would be sufficient to appraise me of it.” – Mr. Beauramis page 226
While I would love to give this delightful read 5 solid stars, I’m held back by some slight dissatisfaction with our title heroine. While I loved her impetuousness, indignant sense of righteousness, and compassionate heart, I sometimes felt she was a little inconsistent. Since the first 130 pages of the novel don’t include any of her charity or concern for others, it seemed as if her social consciousness developed overnight. And when her desperate situation led her to contemplate a scheme that is filled with even more duplicity and brazenness than her first deception, I found her actions shocking and a little disappointing. I couldn’t agree with or like such behavior. In addition, I found the subplot with Arabella’s brother (which felt very predictable) to receive a little too much page time.
Nonetheless, I delighted in the entertaining and mad-cap adventure Arabella and Mr. Beauramis took me on! I can clearly understand why Arabella is a favorite of many Georgette Heyer fans! (My favorites remain Devil’s Cub, Cotillion, and Sylvester)
HAPPY 112th BIRTHDAY TO GEORGETTE HEYER!!!