This however is a great injustice! They are brilliant brilliant books and everyone should read them! Well, anyone with the slightest trace of an interest in Regency romances anyway. They are meticulously researched and rich in period detail. As such I know an unlikely amount about Regency England - if I read more than two in a row I accidentally start dropping in the slang, gets me some very strange looks... I don't think 'romance' really does them justice although that is undoubtedly what they are. Yet they are so much more than trashy chicklit or Mills & Boon (much as I admired that institution in the folly of youth). They are things of heart-melting glory.
I inherited my addiction from my mother. She has always kept all 40 or so of the Georgette's in her bedside cupboard and turns to them frequently in times of busyness or stress (they are an excellent way to relax). She reads them cyclically, working her way through them all and then start again. She dealt me my first Georgette when I must have been sixteen or seventeen, I haven't looked back. That book was Devil's Cub and it remains one of my favourites, possibly my top favourite. That is a very difficult call though so I am not going to decide it absolutely. Vying for key position is probably Cotillion although I have also have super soft spots for A Convenient Marriage (Heart Horry), Venetia and Sylvester. I'm sure I'll remember more in a moment and have to insert those too. It is a very tight race...
(Fab Pan cover copy -my personal fave - c/o Abe Books)
Anyhoo, Devil's Cub. It is the story of the Marquis of Vidal and the amazing Mary Challoner. Vidal is, of course, dark, suave, handsome and a bit dangerous. Fiery temper; used to getting his own way; attempting to clamber out of the shadow of his legendary father, the Duke of Avon who was quite the rakehell in his day (see These Old Shade, dammit, there is another favourite); tendency to shoot people, bandits to drunkards, an excellent shot. He is quite the rogue and rather going off the rails. Mary is the sturdy and intelligent heroine. She is gutsy (this word doesn't get out enough anymore, I think we should bring it back, it is an excellent word as well as an excellent quality). I have a major soft spot for the not-beautiful-but-smart/brave/kind/intelligent heroine. Say much about me?? Anyway, they fall into all sorts of scrapes, careering around France there are shootings and elopements and battles of will, and it is very exciting and VERY romantic. I don't want to ruin the ending for you but guess what, it is happy!
This is the joy of these books - you know there is going to be a happy ending, which is very reassuring, but you don't know how it is going to be achieved. Georgette writes wonderfully, I think, so you really enjoy the middle, it is not just bland filler before the ending (hello, Mills & Boon). The characters are charming and engaging and they totally welcome you back everytime! A Georgette is escapism at its very best. I know that there is actually a thriving community of under-40 Georgette enthusiasts (I'm doing my bit by slowly converting all my friends) but if you haven't tried her Devil's Cub is a perfect place to start. Do it now!