Friday, June 6, 2008

April Lady - Georgette Heyer

When Lord Cardross marries the young Lady Helen he also finds himself coping with her father's financial disasters and the pressing gambling debts of her scapegrace brother. Many escapades must be resolved before the much-tried Earl can smooth the course of true love in his own marriage.

April Lady is, like several Heyer novel, a comedy of errors.

Lady Cardross, recently married, is very much in love with her husband but tries to hide as her mother told her on the eve of the wedding that she was merely a convenience to Cardross and his sister mentioned to her he had a mistress thus making her even more sure of his lack of love for her. Lord Cardross is madly in love with his wife but fears she only married him because he is very rich and her family of gamesters was very much in need of funds.

When the story starts Helen (Nell) has incurred in a great deal of debt not only to help her brother but also with the dress makers. Seeing her worried Cardross tells her he will pay all the debts but she forgets to give him one and after promising him she will take better care of her purchases she doesn't have the courage to ask him to pay one more. She tries to find a way to have the money needed asking for her brother's help but she finds herself unable to look her husband in the eye for fear he will discover the debt. At the same time, finding her behaviour odd Cardross starts to believe she just married him so she can pay the family's debts and feels nothing for him.

Heyer always writes fun lines and vivid characters but although I enjoyed the book I think Nell needed to sparkle a bit more, say like Leonie in These Old Shades or Horatia in The Convenient Marriage. Two books where we have a younger heroine paired up with an older man but in which they steal the scenes they appear in. Cardross also seems to lack the condescending and sometimes sarcastic and self deprecating humour those heroes had.

There are quite a few adventures involving Cardross's sister and her beloved that lead to an even bigger misunderstanding between Lord and Lady Cardross but everything gets solved in the end and I almost laughed out loud with the set down Dysart gives Cardross about him not taking care of his wife. Dysart is after all a carefree rogue always involved in new adventures and without a feather to fly with so hardly the type to be giving lectures but in this case Cardross has to accept it with grace.

Grade: B-

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