I may not have loved Bath Tangle the first time I read it, but I REALLY loved it this time!!! One thing I'm learning by rereading all the Heyer romances is that timing is everything, that there is a right mood and a wrong mood for reading. This time, I was definitely in the right mood to enjoy Bath Tangle from cover to cover.
Heyer is sometimes compared to Jane Austen. Bath Tangle shares some similarities with Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. The feisty relationship between Ivo, the Marquis of Rotherham, and Serena is in some ways like that of Elizabeth and Darcy. Ivo and Serena were at one point--perhaps five to seven years before the start of Bath Tangle?--engaged to be married. I wouldn't say there is regret on her part, at least not that she'd ever admit, however, there is enough regret on his side--which he hides under some pride. There are hints at Persuasion, but just subtly. The start of Bath Tangle even reminds me a tiny bit of Sense and Sensibility: it starts with a death (Serena's father) and is all about family adjustments. Serena and her step-mother Fanny are out of a home because of an inheritance; and there is some family tension. However, they are not poor.
Serena is close to her step-mother, Fanny, who is several years younger. The two decide to keep house together. Fanny does not want to go back to live with her parents. And Serena does not want to have to live with a fussy aunt. They can chaperon one another. The two eventually decide to go to Bath to finish out their year of mourning. Bath Tangle is about their time there and the men and women they meet. Hector is one of the gentleman they meet. He and Serena flirted years ago; he thought she was THE ONE. She is very pleased to see him again. She has very fond memories of being worshiped. The two do not announce their engagement, but they do come to an agreement. Emily is a young woman that Serena and Fanny spend some time with. Emily is the fiancee of Ivo. Fanny thinks the marriage would be a huge mistake. Serena thinks that Emily just needs time and training, that she can be made to be worthy of Ivo. Mrs. Floore is a very interesting character, as well, she is Emily's grandmother.
The "tangle" of the title is very appropriate for the relationships in Bath Tangle are very messy. Even though Ivo is not present in a great many scenes, I felt his presence was still FELT throughout much of the novel. I really thought the tension between Ivo and Serena was great. Loved all the arguing. Loved how he understood her better than Hector! The last third of the novel was practically perfect.
Bath Tangle is a romantic comedy. The love lives of most of the characters are settled by the end of the novel.
I also appreciated the historical detail in this one. There is some time spent discussing Glenarvon by Caroline Lamb, which was quite a sensation in 1816. Also there is discussion of the wedding (or upcoming wedding) of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews