honestly mem's Reviews > False Colours

False Colours by Georgette Heyer
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's review
Jul 04, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, historical-fiction, fiction, straight-up-romance, personal-bookshelf
Read in July, 2008

Oh! Oh! This book is such a delight. I'll be honest: I've a backlog of seven or eight Georgette Heyer novels I've meant to read for absolute ages, but for some reason or another I've never really got around to doing so. I intend to do so immediately! I can't say I'm surprised this should be the novel to draw me into what I strongly suspect shall be a ferocious and terrible addiction: I have a truly ridiculous soft spot for tales of mistaken identity and twins willingly or unwillingly forced to switch places; witness my complete run of Mixx's (now Tokyopop's) publication of the otherwise forgettable Miracle Girls.

Kit's task is made easier by the fact that he has been out of London for the past three years, performing his diplomatic duties abroad; and by an unanticipated stroke of luck: Cressy's family knows of Evelyn Denville through his reputation alone; Cressy herself has only spoken with Evelyn the once, when he proposed they marry not for love, but convenience. Alas, the charade is quickly complicated: Cressy intended to break off the engagement with Evelyn, but finds herself charmed by and quite enjoying her time with Kit; the true Evelyn cannot be found, all leads proving false; and a retreat to the country hoped to give Kit space from Evelyn's acquaintances in London is immediately ruined when his mother reveals the Dowager Lady Stavely and Cressy will soon be joining them.

False Colours starts off a bit slow, with the first two or three chapters consisting largely of Kit and his mother, Lady Denville, discussing her financial situation, Evelyn's inheritance and disappearance, and the merits of Cressy Stavely. The pay-off is evident the moment Kit arrives at the residence of Lord Stavely. Tedious though this opening is (and it is not all tedious, as Kit and Lady Denville are both clever speakers and Lady Denville is particularly energetic), it provides the framework needed for the remainder of the novel. Kit and Cressy's first meeting proves especially delightful, each expecting something of the other (Kit from his mother's report of Evelyn's sudden engagement and Cressy from Evelyn's well-known reputation) only to be pleasantly surprised by the reality - or in Cressy's case, the perceived reality.

As a romantic hero, Kit is a wonderful change of pace from the rakes and volatile gentleman of other regency (or near-regency) romances. He has a sense of humor and a sharp wit, but he is sensible, kind, and (to his mother's horror) mature, and if I'm to be honest, these are exactly the qualities I look for in a romantic hero. Dependable guys are awesome! Cressy is likewise sensible: intelligent, keen-witted, and neither silly nor easily shocked. Kit and Cressy very quickly fall into sync with each other; one gets the feeling that they are not merely lovers, but great friends as well.

(I will admit that so far as the assorted romantic plots of the novel go, my favorite proved to be that of Lady Denville and her former suitor, Bonamy Ripple, who also happens to be my favorite character on account of how he is totally friggin' awesome. It is entirely possible this is my favorite romantic thread solely because its resolution made me laugh like a loon, but I will neither confirm nor deny this possibility.)

Heyer's prose is lovely: very understated in scenes of great passion or feeling and frequently rather sly. I finished False Colours in a few hours, a feat which I feel must be credited to the swift pacing and her vivacious prose. It's fun, it's giddy, and though she isn't one to skimp on the details, Heyer never allows them to overwhelm her writing.

Satisfying though False Colours is - and it is very satisfying - I found the ending both very sudden and surprisingly weak. A seemingly inevitable confrontation never comes to fruition and a romantic subplot involving Evelyn and a young woman who remains off-page for the entirety of the novel is neither developed nor resolved; ultimately it proves to be an unnecessary digression from the story. With the exception of the subplot involving Lady Denville's debts, very few of the plot threads are resolved. It's a frustrating conclusion to an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable novel.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Zen (new)

Zen Cho I don't think I've read False Colours, but it sounds like fun! Is this your first Heyer? How exciting! You might like The Masqueradors, 'cos that's got siblings switching places as well. Cotillion is probably my favourite Heyer ever, but don't read that till you've read a few more Heyers, because part of the fun is the way she subverts her own tropes. Other favourites: Devil's Cub (this is a sequel to These Old Shades, one of the most popular Heyers, but I dislike that quite a bit because I don't like the dynamics of the main romance) and Frederica, both of which you may read immediately. :)

honestly mem Oh, no! I've made an awful mistake - I just started reading Cotillion on a whim (and I haven't finished any of her other works yet on account of my laziness). Hm! Well, I'll just have to come back to it later.

I tried very valiantly to get through These Old Shades, but, like you, I wasn't very fond of the main romance. Is it all right to read Devil's Cub without having read These Old Shades first? It doesn't appear to be a direct sequel, which bodes well, but I'm worried I might miss out on some things.

I think Sourcebooks, the company reprinting Heyer's stuff in the USA, just released Frederica, so I'll see if I can order a copy at my local shop.

I'm sorry it's taken me so very long to reply to your comment! Thank you so much for the recommendations and the advice. :)

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