Two from Georgette Heyer: Regency Buck and Black Sheep

It’s been a while since I read anything by Georgette Heyer and I still have a lot of her books to get through, so I had a nice surprise a few weeks ago when I found two on the library shelf that I hadn’t read yet: Regency Buck and Black Sheep. Neither of these were near the top of my list of Heyer novels to look out for, but I was still pleased to have the opportunity to read them – and I’m even more pleased to say that I enjoyed both.

regency-buck-heyer Published in 1935, Regency Buck was the first of Heyer’s many novels to be set in the Regency period. It follows the adventures of Judith Taverner and her younger brother, Sir Peregrine (Perry), who have recently been orphaned and, under the terms of their father’s will, have been left under the guardianship of his friend, the fourth Earl of Worth. Leaving their home in Yorkshire, the brother and sister set off for London to meet the Earl. It proves to be a more eventful journey than they expected when they have an unpleasant encounter with an arrogant nobleman on the road. Imagine their horror when they discover that this nobleman is none other than Julian St John Audley, who has inherited the title of Earl of Worth from his father and is therefore their new guardian!

Judith is a strong, independent young woman who is used to doing as she pleases; on arriving in London she sets about making a name for herself by refusing to conform to the conventions of society, but Worth has other ideas as to how she should behave. Unable to see eye to eye with her guardian, Judith is grateful for the friendship and support of her cousin Bernard, with whom she has just become acquainted for the first time. Soon, though, Judith has more important things to worry about. It seems that someone is trying to murder Perry – but who can it be?

Although I had my suspicions as to Worth’s true motives, Heyer misleads us so much that we can’t be completely sure whether he is the hero or the villain. I would usually like this type of character, but Worth just never endeared himself to me; I found him unnecessarily patronising and I really felt for Judith and Perry every time they were forced into yet another humiliating conversation with him. I did like Judith – she’s an intelligent, outspoken and rebellious heroine – and I thought Perry was amusing, with all his youthful enthusiasms! As usual, Heyer’s recreation of the Regency period is vivid and immersive and although the main characters are fictional, there are also some real historical figures who make an appearance in the story. I loved the portrayal of the famous dandy Beau Brummell, particularly in the scene where Judith meets him for the first time – a case of mistaken identity!

Regency Buck is set in London and Brighton, which gives it a slightly different feel from the second of the two books I read, Black Sheep, which is set in Bath…

black-sheep At twenty-eight and still single, it is looking unlikely that Abby Wendover will ever marry. Instead, she is concerning herself with the love affairs of her seventeen-year-old niece, Fanny, whose romance with the handsome, dashing Mr Stacy Calverleigh has become the talk of Bath. Although Fanny’s other aunt, Selina, has been taken in by Stacy’s charms, Abby is convinced he is nothing more than a fortune hunter and determines to free Fanny from his clutches. However, when Stacy’s uncle, Miles Calverleigh – the ‘black sheep’ of the family – also arrives in Bath, Abby finds herself drawn into a relationship which is considered even more unsuitable than Fanny’s!

Black Sheep, published in 1966, is a later Heyer novel. It’s one of my favourites so far and that is largely because of its wonderful hero and heroine. I loved both Abby and Miles and found myself looking forward to every scene they were in together. They feel like two people who really would have liked and understood each other, rather than characters who are just being forced together for the sake of the plot – there’s a genuine chemistry between them and the dialogue really sparkles! I liked the fact that Abby is a little bit older than the average Heyer heroine (she reminded me in some ways of Anne Elliot in Persuasion); she’s a sensible, mature woman whose romance with Miles is of a very different nature than Fanny’s with Stacy.

As I said at the start of this post, I enjoyed reading both of these novels. I was particularly relieved to find that I liked Regency Buck as it doesn’t seem to be a very popular book with Heyer fans! I probably wouldn’t recommend that one to readers new to Heyer, though; of these two, I think Black Sheep would be a much better place to start.

Have you read either of these? What are your favourite Heyer novels?

23 thoughts on “Two from Georgette Heyer: Regency Buck and Black Sheep

  1. calmgrove says:

    Having nearly worked my way through Austen the time is nearly nigh when I might tackle Heyer, and these sound ideal titles to start with!

    I’m now wondering whether, after Bath Abby [sic], Heyer’s humour extended to the naming of other characters in her novels? Just thinking aloud!

    • Helen says:

      I find Heyer’s novels quite different from Austen’s, but there are definitely a lot of similarities and people who like one do usually seem to like the other.

      I can’t think of any specific character names, but Heyer does have a great sense of humour which particularly shines through in her dialogue.

  2. Sandra says:

    I too, have never read any of Heyer’s novels, and your reviews of these two made me think so much of the world that Jane Austen creates – which, like calmgrove, I have almost finished exploring. I can see myself heading into Heyer’s regency world before too long!

    • Helen says:

      I think Heyer is the perfect author for readers who have finished working through Austen’s novels and don’t want to leave the regency world behind. 🙂

  3. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    When I discovered Heyer I gobbled up everything so fast it rather runs together in my memory. I think your assessment of Regency Buck is very similar to mine, but I need to reread Black Sheep to remember what I thought of that. Some of my favorites are Cotillion, Friday’s Child, and The Talisman Ring (not a Regency).

    • Helen says:

      I enjoyed The Talisman Ring – it was the first Heyer novel I read – but I haven’t read Cotillion or Friday’s Child yet. I’m looking forward to reading both!

  4. Seren says:

    Georgette Heyer is one of my favourite writers, I adore her books! My absolute favourite is set a bit earlier than the Regency: “These Old Shades”, and the sequel, “Devil’s Cub” is brilliant too.

    I also love “Friday’s Child”, “The Grand Sophy”, “Arabella”…and I’m sure lots more that I am now entirely forgetting.

    Her murder mysteries are also quite fun if you haven’t tried them – very classic, Golden Age whodunnits and nice, easy reads.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve read most of her other books set in the Georgian period and loved them, so These Old Shades and Devil’s Cub are two that I’m particularly looking forward to reading.

      I’ve also read two of the murder mysteries (Envious Casca and Footsteps in the Dark) – and yes, they are fun!

  5. Jennifer says:

    I love Georgette Heyer. Her books are some of my comfort reads. Black Sheep is one of my favorites. I also really enjoy Cotillion and A Civil Contract. I second the recommendation of her mystery novels. They are just as witty and charming.

  6. Pam Thomas says:

    I think I must have read almost every Heyer historical, except My Lord John (totally impenetrable) – I’ve even read The Conqueror and Beauvallet! My mother introduced me, she could remember, at her boarding school, leaning out of the window to catch the last of the light to finish ‘These Old Shades’ – so that must have been around 1930. She liked ‘The Spanish Bride’ (which inspired a lifelong interest in the Peninsular War for both of us) and ‘An Infamous Army’, whereas my favourites are ‘Venetia’ and ‘Frederica’. But they still hold up well and I took an MP3 version of ‘Bath Tangle’ with me on a stay in hospital a couple of years ago. Funny, warm and comforting. And forgive me for saying so, but most ‘Regency’ novels are pale imitations of Heyer at her best.

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t even tried to read My Lord John – maybe I will one day, but it’s certainly not a priority while I have so many of her other books left to read. I haven’t read either Venetia or Frederica yet, so I’m pleased I still have your two favourites to look forward to.

  7. Katherinems123 says:

    I agree that Worth really does nothing to endear himself to the reader except that maybe he is always right. But then he has to be because Judith is wrong about everything. Maybe Heyer tried to pay homage to P&P here. If only Judith had been poor and as intelligent as Elizabeth, it might have been a more satisfying story. Using Bernard as the villain was unfortunate because his motive wasn’t strong enough. But then he had to be the villain or Judith might as well have married him as Worth.

    • Helen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Katherine. I agree with the points you’ve made here – and I was definitely reminded of Pride and Prejudice a few times while I was reading the book.

  8. Yvonne says:

    I’ve read all the romances, but so long ago I can’t remember every book except for The Black Moth which will always be my favourite as it is the first book I read by Georgette Heyer. An Infamous Army and The Spanish Bride are also favourites due to my interest in the Napoleonic/Peninsular Wars. I’ve just re-read The Unknown Ajax and The Nonesuch and loved them both!

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t read any of the books you’ve mentioned, but I’m looking forward to reading all of them! I know my library has The Black Moth so hopefully I’ll be reading that one soon.

  9. FictionFan says:

    I have read and re-read Heyer’s Regency romances so often they’ve all kind of run together in my mind now – I pretty much like them all, because I love the world she creates for them. The one that stands out for me, though, is Cotillion, which is one of my favourite books of all time – my comfort read whenever I’m feeling blue or under the weather.

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