The Grand Sophy is my second Heyer (after the so-so Sprig Muslin), and it's a delight--much more enjoyable than the other, because I preferred Sophy's...moreThe Grand Sophy is my second Heyer (after the so-so Sprig Muslin), and it's a delight--much more enjoyable than the other, because I preferred Sophy's protagonists. Heyer's strengths as a writer are her humor & command of dialogue; consequently, her books succeed or flounder based on how amusing you find the lead characters.
Sophy borders on being too perfect, but Heyer somehow manages to make her charming instead of a Mary Sue. It helps that Sophy's physically in the Elizabeth Bennett category, and while she's savvy about people (thus potentially manipulative), her heart and brain are in the right place. There's also something comforting about a heroine whose wild schemes always succeed. I liked Charles (even if they are first cousins--squick!), too, and loved his & Sophy's bickering dynamic (though perhaps he threatens to kill her too many times).
The other characters are entertaining as well, so that I never got impatient when the story detoured from the main couple. It helps that Cecilia, Heyer's requisite "silly beauty" secondary lead, is sympathetic, and not very silly at all. I liked her eventual husband, and deeply enjoyed her unsuitable beau (and hapless poet) Augustus Fawnhope.
The book isn't perfect, though (hence 4 stars instead of 5)--the plot meanders, and as others have mentioned, there's an ugly anti-Semitic moment (involving a money-lender named Goldhanger, of all things). As a Hispanic, I also had major eye roll over the Spanish Marquesa (she's the embodiment of sloth, except when food is involved). And, while Sophy gets a free pass for comedy's sake, any house guest who gives her host a monkey and a parrot should be shot.
That said, The Grand Sophy is pure fun (think Jane Austen mixed with P.G. Wodehouse), and well worth picking up. A must read for romance/historical fiction fans.(less)
**spoiler alert** My female friends & I complain that while we love romance in books (see: P&P, Outlander, even the Sookie Stackhouse series),...more**spoiler alert** My female friends & I complain that while we love romance in books (see: P&P, Outlander, even the Sookie Stackhouse series), we rarely enjoy genre romances. My Lady Notorious proved that point for me; I picked it up based on great word-of-mouth & online reviews, and so was extra-bummed when it turned out to be not very good at all.
Of course I've read worse (much worse). MLN's plot is intriguing, in an overcooked, my-father-hired-someone-to-surgically-break-my-hymen way. The gender-bending conceit is mostly wasted, but some of Cyn's digs at the unsuspecting "Charles" made me laugh. I didn't hate any of the characters.
I didn't love any of them either, though, or give a fig for anybody in the book except Rothgar (and only because his motivations were a mystery). The central romance moves too fast, and the eventual feelings portrayed are too intense for anyone, let alone people who've known each other for 5 days ("Chastity shivered under the sensual power this man had over her. How could she survive without him?" etc., etc.). It's hard to become emotionally invested in cartoons.
In the same vein, the writing, while not bad, is peppered with potboiler cliches. I recently read 3 Georgette Heyer historicals, and the phrasing and dialogue of My Lady Notorious suffers from the comparison.
One additional caveat: MLN is raunchy for a historical (e.g., there is an orgy). The sex scenes didn't grab me, though, maybe because the surrounding material felt silly. (less)
Frustrating. The writing's decent & the heroine likable, but I had major problems with plot, pacing, and at least one main character. (view spoile...moreFrustrating. The writing's decent & the heroine likable, but I had major problems with plot, pacing, and at least one main character. (view spoiler)[I wish Isaacs had skipped the first "romance" with John entirely. His treatment of the main character was so unappealing, even from the beginning, and the chapters with him just dragged. I wish Isaacs had spent more time on actual romance with Leland as well. (hide spoiler)](less)
Georgette Heyer's writing style merits five stars, but Amanda's unbearable. I'm sold on Heyer's work, though; will try The Grand Sophy or These Old Sh...moreGeorgette Heyer's writing style merits five stars, but Amanda's unbearable. I'm sold on Heyer's work, though; will try The Grand Sophy or These Old Shades next.(less)