Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Civil Contract” as Want to Read:
A Civil Contract
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Civil Contract

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  4,427 Ratings  ·  409 Reviews
Adam Deveril, a hero of Salamanca, returns from the Peninsula War to find his family on the brink of ruin and his ancestral home mortgaged to the hilt. He is now Viscount Lynton, with the responsibility of saving the estate, and the only way to do so is to marry an heiress. He is introduced to Mr. Jonathan Chawleigh, a City man of apparently unlimited wealth and no social ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Arrow (first published 1961)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Civil Contract, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Civil Contract

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 18, 2012 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This review contains some spoilers

I know from reading Jennifer Kloester’s excellent biography of Georgette Heyer* that A Civil Contract was not an easy novel for Heyer to write. Before starting work on it, Heyer wrote to a friend that she wanted to write a new kind of novel that would be “neither farcical nor adventurous”. Heyer wrote that the novel would depend for its success on whether she could make the hero as charming as she believed him to be and also on whether she “could make a quiet st
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars, rounding up: this is a story that has grown on me. A Civil Contract is a marriage of convenience tale, very different from Georgette Heyer's other Regency novels that I've read. There is a romance at the heart of it, as usual, but it's a little bit practical-minded and a little bit heartbreaking, as well as heartwarming.

Captain Adam Deveril, now Lord Lynton, returns to his ancestral home from the Napoleonic wars when his father unexpectedly dies. Unfortunately, he also returns home t
Mar 26, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fifth Heyer I've read, and it's my favorite to date. Given that Georgette Heyer wrote dozens of books, I still have a way to go before I can claim it as my favorite of all, but I think I've sampled enough to get a feel for the type of books she wrote and the character styles she favorited.

A Civil Contract is a departure from the Heyer romantic plotlines. Although marriages of convenience are standard regency romance fare, Heyer takes this and stands it on its head by keeping the hero
Grace Tjan
Having just read a god awful Pride and Prejudice ‘sequel’, I wanted to read a bona fide Regency romance, and picked one by no one less than Georgette Heyer, the originator of the genre, and perhaps the only romance novelist who comes with glowing recommendations from A.S. Byatt. Not being a romance reader, I didn’t know what to expect, but I thought that this book is one decidedly odd romance. Imagine pitching it as a rom com/costume drama script to a Hollywood studio executive:

Studio Executive
 Carol ♛ Type, Oh Queen! ♛
Apr 03, 2016 Carol ♛ Type, Oh Queen! ♛ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of more realistic romances
GH's most unromantic romance. But does romantic love last anyway or does it change to comfortable companionship?

GH explores this theme with (as usual for her) a rich cast of colourful characters & she deftly weaves some real life history into the plot. She handles several romantic plots with considerable aplomb.

Like many of her later romances, Adam isn't an idle aristocrat - he is originally a soldier, then becomes a gentleman farmer - & he is called home to England when his recently de
Nov 03, 2007 Darcy rated it liked it
(view spoiler)

I've read quite a few of Heyer's novels and this one struck me as particularly interesting. Heyer is a legend among romance readers--her characters have depth, the events make sense, and while these are books with more talk than action, that talk is lively and always well written.

Heyer's novels fall into a few categories: silly, young heroine marries worldly hero and the two agree to a "French" marriage, only to discover they are in love; older, independent, soph
Moonlight Reader
I am going to gush.

I've read a lot of Georgette Heyer - as the originator of the regency romance, she is a hugely influential author. She is a talented, careful writer with a flair for comedy, and some of her best books are also some of her funniest.

A Civil Contract is a departure from her usual formula, and it knocked my socks off. It begins with Adam Deveril being forced to return home from his position in the Army, as his spendthrift father has unexpectedly died in a riding accident, and he h
Oct 21, 2016 Hana rated it really liked it
Close to a five for sheer originality and daring. Most romances end with the wedding or the proposal. This marvelous historical novel starts with a death, moves on to one of the most awkward proposal scenes ever and follows a couple through the first year of a marriage of convenience. The characters are wonderful--even the minor figures are vividly, and often amusingly drawn. The social commentary is deft. There is also a great historical sub-plot surrounding the Napoleonic wars, ending with the ...more
Adam Deveril of the Duke of Wellington's 52nd Regiment has only recently returned to active combat duty after being wounded when he learns of the tragic death of his father, Viscount, Lord Lynton of Lincolnshire. He is more shocked to learn that his father died in massive debt and their estate, Fontley Priory is mortgaged to the hilt. Adam has only one choice: sell. How can he sell his family home? Should he? He has a mother and two younger sisters to support. Even if Charlotte accepts her belov ...more
Apr 12, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing
After all, life was not made up of moments of exaltation, but of quite ordinary, everyday things.
Oct 06, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
Aww, Georgette Heyer. How come I never review her books? I became a huge Heyer fan in my romantic teens, and I have to say, her books never pall; if anything I enjoy them even more now that I am wallowing in my middle years. I remember being disappointed when I read this book first: it's about Adam, whose profligate father dies, leaving him penniless and unable to marry the beautiful and romantic Julia. Julia's father, sympathetic to Adam's dire financial straits, puts him in the way of marrying ...more
Jane Stewart
Settling for someone you don’t love, and then finding value, and it’s good. And your life is better.

Readers in the mood for “true love” with passion and seduction, will not want this. Some find it sad. Although I wasn’t sad. I felt calm and pleased at the end.

Adam’s father dies leaving huge debts. Adam needs to sell the family’s London house and possibly the ancestral home. A friend arranges a meeting between Adam and Jonathan a wealthy business man. Jonathan wants a title for his daug
Jun 30, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it
A Civil Contract is quite unlike Heyer’s other novels, because the romance is understated and, indeed, there isn’t much romance at all, at least not in the same sense. It’s a much more practical novel, dealing with the realities of life: more or less arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, unsuitable matches… The most entertaining thing about it is the clash between the aristocratic main character and his father-in-law, Mr Chawleigh. In fact, Mr Chawleigh quite steals the show on a number ...more
Jul 31, 2008 CLM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to CLM by: SLM
Shelves: regency
This is a book that is hard to love as an impressionable adolescent but is highly valued by more mature fans of GH and gains appeal with every reread. Yet it has a tinge of melancholy throughout due to the fact that Adam sacrifices himself for his family/estate by marrying Jenny for her money, and he (at least initially) believes she is marrying him for his title, whereas in fact, although she is in some way willing to please her father (who wants her to marry into the aristocracy) she secretly ...more
Seema Khan
Apr 10, 2016 Seema Khan rated it liked it
Shelves: georgette-heyer
By far my least favourite of Heyer books!

I did not expect such a story between the covers of any book bearing the name of Georgette Heyer! Many readers believe this to be more towards actual and practical life circumstances, but then this is fiction, and one reads fiction to take a break from those very actual and practical circumstances! I wouldn’t read a book that would depress me, and sadly this was a fleeting emotion I felt while reading this book. Had this been my first Heyer, I doubt if I
Nov 20, 2014 Desi rated it really liked it
The realness of some of the bursts of negative emotions experienced by the characters, the bile sometimes expressed, made me somewhat uncomfortable at times while reading this. This is why it is not my favorite Heyer. It's slightly dark overtones means it really isn't a relaxing read.

Love the historical details. As always I learnt something new about the period. The glimpse into the life of a cit was intriguing. And she somehow managed to make a completely vulgar character affable and charming
Mary Ronan Drew
Mar 10, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
I have a friend who, when darkness comes and pain is all around, resorts to re-reading her collection of Georgette Heyer novels. I did not really understand what she saw in these, the best of the Regency romances (unless you count Jane Austen's novels, which of course were also Regency romances) until a couple of years ago when I read some of the best-known of them, The Corinthian, The Nonesuch, and Charity Girl. These books sparkle. Forget Harlequin. These are first-rate novels.

So when someone
Jamie Collins
This is a different sort of Georgette Heyer novel. It's almost an anti-romance, where instead of falling deeply in love, our hero and heroine settle for good enough. It's an interesting plot variation.

We have a heroine who isn't a beauty, and whose many self-deprecating comments are not contradicted by her friends, who perhaps see no reason to deny an obvious lack of advantage. We have a hero who is infuriating not because he's an arrogant ass in the mold of Mr. Darcy, but because he is kind and
May 09, 2016 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: odds-and-ends
The plot line of this book attracted me, when I read Hana's review, and I'm glad that I took the plunge. Heyer's writing is so engaging that if I were given the opportunity, I would have read this without stopping. Her historical research on the events surrounding the narrative, as well as the language and slang of the Regency period, is very impressive. She conveys the tension and excitement in London as everyone awaited news of the result of the Battle of Waterloo. She's a very good writer who ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Alaine rated it it was amazing
This is the first time that I've read a Georgette Heyer novel and I loved it. It was like stepping back in time to live with real people. The way Heyer supplied so many small details that give you such a complete picture of what life must have been like in the Regency period in England.
The romantic plot centres on a Viscount who reluctantly enters into a marriage of convenience with a wealthy commoner's daughter due to his father's death and substantial family debt he has inherited.
For much of t
Lady Wesley
Dec 13, 2011 Lady Wesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, m-o-c
A masterful job by Georgette Heyer that deserves to be liberated from the "Regency romance" ghetto and considered as serious fiction. It's not really even a romance, given that the main characters marry for money and nothing else. We watch them grow, however, into a sort of love based upon their strong commitment and sense of honor. Very touching, with a dose of humor delivered by the bride's impressively vulgar father.
May 19, 2016 Lea rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, romance, kindle
A young lord's only chance to save his ancestral home and provide for his mother and sisters is to marry a heiress. A wealthy Cit wishes his daughter to have a title and advance in society.

If you read romances even semiregularly, you're probably thinking that you know where this is going. Adam and Jenny would marry and then fall head over heels in love and have amazing sex, etc. But that's not what Heyer is doing here. Forget the fairy tale and forget the HEA. This is Heyer's grounded examinatio
Susan in NC
4/7/16 - still a five-star book for me; I really enjoyed reading this book (third time) with the GR Heyer Fans group. Several readers loved it, some hated it and thought it was too much of a departure from Heyer's usual sparkling, witty romances, but I think we all got a lot out of the discussion, sifting through the many layers of this wonderful book and it's many flawed and fascinating characters. This is a book I will return to often, so much to discover and savor.

July 2015 - this is still a
Clare Cannon
Feb 17, 2014 Clare Cannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 13-15yrs, young-adult
A gentle romance about an impoverished young gentleman who is encouraged to marry a rich heiress who though not beautiful is eminently sensible, and who happens to be the former best friend of his beautiful first love.

I'm always impressed that Heyer's good characters constantly struggle to improve their virtue, overcoming anger and pride and trying to be of service and to make life pleasant for others. This is contrasted with the self-centred, subtly petulant attitude of the social belle who al
Jul 31, 2010 Veronica rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I had no clue about ‘A Civil Contract’ when I took it from the library. I was shocked to find a completely different treat awaiting me. It was not the customary elopements or falling in love matters but the convenient marriage axiom where the relationship follows the fulfillment of a bargain on both the sides. Heyer spins the tale with the parody of Adam on the brink of financial ruin with only a handsome face to recommend be paired opposite the unsightly but moneyed Jennifer. Adam who is head o ...more
Dec 13, 2013 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Excellent characterization. Not exactly a romance, this is heartwarming fiction set in the Regency period in England. An admirable nobleman returns from the Peninsular Wars to find that his father drained the estates. Deadbeat dad is dead, and Adam is desperate. He marries for financial gain, setting his chin to treat his borgeous wife with kind respect. But Adam grows to truly regard Jenny. Together, they slowly realize that life is good. No Byronic passions, no soul bonds, but these good frien ...more
Jun 02, 2007 Res rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
The one where financial ruin forces Lord Lynton to marry rich merchant's daughter Jenny instead of his true love Julia.

This is the first time I've read a Heyer book -- or for that matter any Regency -- that was about marriage rather than about courtship. I liked it very much.

Adam is both warm and good, but immature -- another thing that I haven't seen in other Heyer books -- and so he has a lot of changes to go through over the course of the book. It was a pleasure to see him find a good balanc
Louise Culmer
Jan 30, 2016 Louise Culmer rated it it was ok
for a heyer novel, this one is on the gloomy side. it tells of Adam, an impoverished aristocrat who, unable to marry Julia, the beautiful girl he loves, is persauded to make a marriage of convenience with jenny,a wealthy merchant's daughter. such marriages were not unusual in Regency times, the wealthy merchants dAughters were known as 'Golden Dollies'. This golden dolly however is a short, plain girl, and just happens to be the friend of the gorgeous Julia. Although jenny is presented as a devo ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing
This is possibly my favorite Heyer book thus far in terms of the love story itself. There was just something so satisfying about the heroine being so awkward and having such a ridiculous father who loved her so much and was trying to make her into something she wasn't. I thought Adam was a gentleman, and thought he did rather a good job at coming to terms with the way his life was going to be. I never once understood the appeal of what's-her-face. She was a self-absorbed, melodramatic dingbat. Y ...more
Heyer's other masterpiece (I've already called An Infamous Army Heyer's masterpiece, but I hadn't re-read this one in several decades when I said that). Amazingly good characters, lots of interior dialogue and character development, lots of humour (and the Dowager character totally reminded me of my mother). Probably her most "realistic" book in that many of the scenes are not just from an imaginary Regency England fairyland.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Georgette Heyer's Regency World
  • Golden Girl
  • The Private World of Georgette Heyer
  • The Obedient Bride
  • Lady Elizabeth's Comet (Clanross, #1)
  • Marrying The Royal Marine (Channel Fleet, #3)
  • Mutual Consent
  • Fallen Angel
  • Elyza
  • The Duke's Wager (Bessacarr, #1)
  • Fair Game
  • Indiscretion
  • Snowdrops and Scandalbroth (Regency Romance)
  • The Best Intentions (Country House Party, #2)
  • The Border Lord
  • The Lord Next Door (Willow Pond, #1)
Georgette Heyer was a prolific historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth.

In 1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

More about Georgette Heyer...

Share This Book

“They used to say of me that I'd as many lucky escapes as Harry Smith!'
'Shouldn't be at all surprised: I've seen one of 'em myself,' Brough said cryptically.”
“He didn't choose between me and you, Julia: it was between me and ruin.” 2 likes
More quotes…