From the back of the book:
A disgraced lord, a notorious highwayman
Jack Carstares, the disgraced Earl of Wyndam, left England seven long years ago, sacrificing his honor for that of his brother when he was accused of cheating at cards. Now Jack is back, roaming his beloved South Country in the disguise of a highwayman.
And the beauty who would steal his heart
Not long after Jack’s return, he encounters his old adversary, the libertine Duke of Andover, attempting the abduction of the beautiful Diana Beauleigh. At the point of Jack’s sword, the duke is vanquished, but foiled one, the “Black Moth” has no intention of failing again…
This is Georgette Heyer’s first novel – a favorite of readers and a stirring tale to be enjoyed again and again
Oh! This was just what I had needed – some wonderful Heyer to help me through a stressful holiday season!
I will admit that going into this knowing it was Heyer’s first published novel, I didn’t expect it to be as wonderful as some of her others that I love. In fact, since most of my favourites of hers seem to have been written later in her career, I had expected this one to be rather mediocre. But, oh! It was everything that I love about Heyer’s books. Dashing heroes! Witty and loveable love interests! Hilarious and charming secondary characters! Everything that was wonderful and good with a book was in this one.
Molly O’Hara was definitely the highlight of this book for me. While a minor character – the wife of our own dear Jack Carstares’ best childhood friend – every moment she graces the pages, she brings all kinds of sunshine and happy times. Heyer is able to convey so much excitement and joy and mischief whenever Molly is around, that she totally steals every scene she’s in and really should have a book written all about herself. She deserves to be the main character!
The lovely Diana Beauleigh, while positively lovely and kind and all those wonderful things, really pales in comparison to Molly O’Hara. If Molly hadn’t been in the book, I’m sure I would’ve quite liked Diana, but as it was, she didn’t have that certain SPARK that made her feel like leading lady material. Alas!
In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure really what it is about Ms. Beauleigh that makes both a Duke and an Earl fall head over heels in love with her… She seemed rather plain and a little boring a lot of the time.
The male characters were very much what one would expect from a Heyer book, though not anything that really makes them stand out. Yes, Jack is charming. And a bit of a rake – hello, highwayman! But he’s not as wonderful as Miles Caverleigh from Black Sheep… (Are any of her heroes? I think not!)
The story itself was highly amusing – comedic event after comedic event ensues, which left me giggling at some of the most inopportune moments. What luck Jack seems to have! First holding up his brother, then his best friend (when he is without even a loaded gun)… well, let us just say that many hijinks ensue in this book from the moment the prologue starts to the the last page of the epilogue.
The Bottom Line
Utterly delicious! Highly recommended to regency fans; I will definitely be revisiting this one!