Regency Buck (by Georgette Heyer)

I love Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance novels; I have them all, as far as I know, on my shelves and re-read them regularly. Her characterisation is good, and her writing always feels authentic, both in background and conversation. It had been eleven years since I last read ‘Regency Buck’, so it was time to pick it up again.

Judith Taverner is a wonderfully balanced heroine. She’s beautiful and wealthy. She’s determined, and confident, in classic Heyer style. But she’s also inclined to make impetuous decisions, and, at times, to sulk. We meet her as she and her brother Perry are on their way to London to meet their guardian, Lord Worth. Their late father named him as guardian because he didn’t like his brother; this was the era when young people didn’t ‘come of age’ until they were 21, and women weren’t supposed to be able to deal with money at all.

The early part of the book establishes the characters of the two Taverners nicely, but (to my tastes) there’s far too much detailed description. There are also some quite unpleasant scenes, such as a boxing match which Perry goes to see. Later in the book there are other incidents that made me squeamish - a cockerel fight, for instance, something that was evidently popular amongst young men of the era, but extremely cruel. The unfortunate horses, used in races and for pulling all kinds of conveyances, seem rather harshly treated, at times, too.

Lord Worth, when they meet him, turns out to be rather different from the person Judith and Perry were expecting. Most of the book charts the period in which they’re his wards, before Judith turns 21. While there’s a low-key romance going on, there’s a strong element of crime fiction in it too; this is the other genre in which Heyer wrote, and she combines the two masterfully in this book.

I remembered the broad outline of the story, once it got going, and could remember who was the villain and who the hero. But it wasn’t at all obvious, and the trail of false ‘clues’ is nicely laid. Once or twice I even wondered if I had remembered wrongly. Perry is clearly in danger, though it’s not clear at first exactly why.

This is not one of my favourite Heyer novels, perhaps because there’s so much description and long-winded conversation, and much of the action that takes place is doubtless authentic, but doesn’t much add to the story. However, overall the plot is clever, and nicely done. I found Perry a bit immature and annoying at times, but I liked Judith very much.

The ending is classic Heyer. There’s a dramatic and fast-paced scene, followed by a rescue and a nice, tidy denouement where everything is explained, all ends neatly tied.

Worth having as part of a collection of this author’s books if you’re a fan, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it as a starting point for reading her work. As with most Heyer novels, it's regularly in print, but if you prefer a second-hand edition, it can often be found inexpensively in charity shops.

Review copyright 2018 Sue's Book Reviews

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