The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer
Paperback, 368 pages
Sourcebooks Casablanca Reissue May/June 2011, originally published 1951
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:
Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars. And when he begins to fall for his half-brother’s sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous.
One of Heyer’s most suspenseful Regency romances, The Quiet Gentleman combines an ingenious mystery plot with her signature witty style and effervescently engaging characters.
Although most of Heyer’s romances seem to follow a formula of witty heroine vs the world who doesn’t realize the direct path to everlasting love, The Quiet Gentleman sets itself apart. Focusing on Gervase Frant, the Seventh Earl of St Erth, the novel strays from the female point of view and even adds a bit of gothic and mysterious tones. Our hero, Gervase, returns to his (estranged) deceased father’s estate after serving in the army to claim his inheritance, much to the dismay of his half-brother and stepmother who didn’t actually think he’d survive Waterloo. Gervase is of the character where he could shrug off their dislike of him, but things get dicey when strange happenings occur that put Gervase in harm’s way. Could his half-brother Martin really detest him so much as to wish that Gervase were dead? Is the step-mother the epitome of the evil witch? Or, is the house really haunted?
The romance comes in when Gervase meets Martin’s love interest, Marianne, who is a beautiful and cheerful young lady with many admirers. Martin is quite protective of his invisible tie to her, and Gervase is a bit more dashing than Martin and an immediate rivalry occurs. Luckily, Gervase’s cousin Theo is on Gervase’s side and acts as a bit of a buffer between the brothers and is a trusted confidante of Gervase. And when Gervase’s friend Lord Ulverston comes to stay, Martin earns another foe. Thrown into the mix was Miss Drusilla Morville, neutral friend and loyal companion to all (who could always be counted on to do the Dowager’s tedious tasks).
It has been my previous experience with Heyer that her novels take a bit to get used to its jargon of Regency speak and a myriad of characters who normally take a bit of time to comprehend. With The Quiet Gentleman, there was not an immediate onslaught of unfamiliar names and we are taken right to the action after the opening description of the magnificent homestead of Stanyon, which is somewhat of a medieval fortress turned castle turned grand estate, which in itself becomes a bit of a character in the story.
I enjoy Heyer’s writing because of the way she writes with class, and I love knowing that I will be entertained just because of a silly situation or a witty remark. I am not expecting a thrill-ride or something so extraordinary to knock my socks off; I simply appreciate the story and the setting. Heyer had such a clever mind and writing style, and she did it very well. Heyer is similar to Austen and I often feel that Heyer is overshadowed by Austen, even though Heyer was so much more prolific. I have read ten Heyer’s and one full Austen now, and I have not been disappointed with Heyer’s romances and mysteries yet. I think I enjoyed this one most of all because of its slightly different formula. It is put in her romance genre, yet I enjoyed the mystery of it most of all. And the fact that it didn’t focus on a woman and instead followed the gentleman (and then the women in his life) was a nice change of pace for me. For real Heyer and Austen fans, this one should not disappoint in the least.
Read an excerpt here. In honor of Georgette Heyer’s 109th birthday, Sourcebooks is temporarily offering ALL 46 of Heyer’s titles in e-book format at $1.99 each: