This is my third review of Venetia. (I've read the book three times and listened to the audio book once. It was narrated by Richard Armitage.)
It is my FAVORITE Georgette Heyer novel. There are many I'd place in my top five, but, really no other book comes close to being consistently in the top slot.
Venetia is our heroine. I love her. I do. She is twenty-five and managing the estate in her older brother's absence. She is also looking out for her younger brother, Aubrey, who is just seventeen. There is something very practical and matter-of-fact about Venetia. For example, she's very honest about herself, about her family, about life as she sees it. She says things that maybe would shock others in society. She has never been "in society." She's lived an extremely sheltered life in some ways. But she'll be having a grand adventure soon enough!
Venetia is out for one of her daily walks when she is surprised by the....Wicked Baron....Lord Damerel himself. Their first meeting is interesting and dramatic...
The two meet when she is trespassing on his land. He has no idea who she is. But she has a fairly good idea who he is. Especially after he kisses her! Yes, he kisses her.
"Who are you?" he demanded abruptly. "I took you for a village maiden--probably one of my tenants."He intends to know her better while he's in the neighborhood. When her brother, Aubrey, has a riding accident and is saved by none other than Damerel...well, she can't help getting to know him much, much better. And soon they become great friends.
"Did you indeed? Well, if that is the way you mean to conduct yourself amongst the village maidens you won't win much liking here!"
"No, no, the danger is that I might win too much!" he retorted. "Who are you? Or should I first present myself to you? I'm Damerel, you know."
"Yes, so I supposed, at the outset of our delightful acquaintance. Later, of course, I was sure of it."
"Oh, oh--! My reputation, Iago, my reputation!" he exclaimed laughing again. "Fair Fatality, you are the most unusual female I have encountered in all my thirty-eight years!"
"You can't think how deeply flattered I am!" she assured him. "I daresay my head would be quite turned if I didn't suspect that amongst so many a dozen or so may have slipped from your memory."
"More like a hundred! Am I never to learn your name? I shall, you know, whether you tell me or no!" (33)
Lord Damerel isn't the only newcomer to the neighborhood. Soon Venetia and Aubrey welcome TWO very unexpected house guests. Conway has gotten married--her name is Charlotte. And Charlotte and her mother have come to stay at Undershaw. And the mother is quite the character. How long can Venetia stand to share a home with such a woman? Venetia begins to think about her options...and wishing it was more socially acceptable for her to set up her own home.
I love this one so much. I love Venetia. I love Lord Damerel. I love Aubrey. I love picking on Edward Yardley and Oswald Denny. It's such a fun and satisfying romance!!!
Startled, she turned her head, and found that she was being observed by a tall man mounted on a handsome gray horse. He was a stranger, but his voice and his habit proclaimed his condition, and it did not take her more than a few moments to guess that she must be confronting the Wicked Baron. She regarded him with candid interest, unconsciously affording him an excellent view of her enchanting countenance. His brows rose, and he swung himself out of the saddle, and came towards her with long, easy strides. She was unacquainted with any men of mode, but although he was dressed like any country gentleman a subtle difference hung about his buckskins and his coat of dandy gray russet. No provincial tailor had fashioned them, and no country beau could have worn them with such careless elegance. He was taller than Venetia had at first supposed, rather loose-limbed, and he bore himself with a faint suggestion of swashbuckling arrogance. (30)
He laughed out at that, flinging back his head in wholehearted enjoyment, gasping, "why, oh why did I never know you until now?"
"It does seem a pity," she agreed. "I have been thinking so myself, for I always wished for a friend to laugh with."
"To laugh with!" he repeated slowly.
"Perhaps you have friends already who laugh when you do," she said diffidently. "I haven't, and it's important, I think--more important than sympathy in affliction, which you might easily find in someone you positively disliked."
"But to share a sense of the ridiculous prohibits dislike--yes, that's true. And rare! My God, how rare! Do they stare at you, our worthy neighbors, when you laugh?"
"Yes! Or ask me what I mean when I'm joking!" She glanced at the clock above the empty fireplace. "I must go." (64)
"Oh, no, nothing of that nature!" she replied, getting up.© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
"I allow you all the vices you choose to claim--indeed, I know you for a gamester, and a shocking rake, and a man of sadly unsteady character!--but I'm not so green that I don't recognize in you one virtue at least, and one quality."
"What is that all? How disappointing! What are they?"
"A well-informed mind, and a great deal of kindness," she said, laying her hand on his arm, and beginning to stroll with him back to the house. (99)