Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In one of her most popular and beloved novels, Georgette Heyer introduces readers to Miss Venetia Lanyon, a twenty-five year old beauty tucked away in her family estate in Yorkshire. At the moment Venetia’s life is somewhat at a standstill. Her brother who serves in the army, Conway has not yet come home these three years to take over the running of the estate and her younger brother, Aubrey, who is preparing for Cambridge, has a diseased hip and needs to be looked after. So, for the time being at least, Venetia is stuck at her ancestral home, in isolation, and with limited society.
But even with such few neighbors and friends, our fair heroine has found herself two admirers – both of which she doesn’t particularly wish to encourage. One who is six years her junior and likes to fancy himself Lord Byron, and one who has a detestable habit of giving lectures and moralizing over situations in which he has no authority. With such contenders for her heart, Venetia often imagines herself never marrying and one day setting up home for her and her younger brother in London. That is until the infamous ‘Wicked Baron,’ Lord Damerel returns to the neighborhood and happens to cross her path…
Now I can see why so many Georgette Heyer fans list Venetia as one of their favorite Heyer romances! I must admit that Venetia is my favorite type of Heyer heroine, I don’t tend to favor heroines who are just beautiful and sweet or ones who are scheming and capricious. I like heroines who are of Venetia’s stamp – artless, forthright, sympathetic, loving, and longing for adventure. In Jane Austen terms, I thought Venetia was a wonderful blend of Elizabeth Bennet (quick wit and frankness), Catherine Morland (innocence and inexperience), and Emma Woodhouse (sheltered childhood, beautiful, and duty to family).
In Venetia, I fell in love not only with Venetia, but with rakish Damerel as well. Damerel, who is true Byronic hero of the tale – with his sneers, black and sinful past – plans a seduction for Venetia at their first encounter. But Venetia unintentionally thwarts Damerel’s seduction plans by challenging him, freely speaking her mind, and openly accepting him as friend, despite all she knows of his past. It was the sweetest thing to see how her compassion and understanding worked as a balm to his jaded heart. And I loved that Damerel was more than just a handsome libertine. He has an intelligent mind, broadened by extensive travel, showed kindness in repeatedly taking care of Aubrey, and admirable honor as he decides he cannot bear to stain Venetia’s reputation. Talk about a complex and intriguing hero!
I loved all the secondary characters in this tale, which were a variety of eccentric, entertaining, and exasperating personalities. But I must admit my favorite secondary character was Aubrey, who kept reminding me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory! LOL! Aubrey is a brilliant scholar who delights in spending his days studying and reading, but he is also described as an “egotist” and liking “books more than people.” With his self-absorption, offending manners, and penchant for working himself into a passion, I couldn’t help but laugh at the comparisons. (Especially at the end!)
Venetia is a romantic adventure full of Georgette Heyer staples – engaging characters, sparkling wit, and riveting dialogue – all of which I love and admire so much. But what I loved most about this tale was the important message it delivered about accepting others and not judging them for their pasts – to love and accept people just as they are. Definitely a fave!
Side Note: I may be showing myself to be a green girl like Venetia by saying this, but I can’t help but comment on how surprising it was to see topics like rape and orgy spoken by characters in this novel! (don’t worry, none of these take place in the story!) It seemed shocking to have them bluntly and openly spoken of as opposed to carefully alluded to or hinted at. But perhaps we owe that to Venetia and her forthright, no nonsense manner…
For the past three years I’ve made it a tradition to post a review near Georgette Heyer’s birthday (August 16th) in celebration! I’ve read several Heyer novels not during August too, you can find all my reviews below.
Which Georgette Heyer book do you think I must read next?