The plot of Venetia follows well-known romance tropes. There’s a heroine, free-spirited and quick-tongued, who’s been living in near seclusion because of her father’s weirdness. And there’s a hero who’s recently moved into his ancestral home, he’s a rake and he’s done some bad things in the past but deep down he’s a really sweet and caring man and he just needs to meet the heroine to be reminded of all the good things that there are in the world. But the heroine won’t fall for his rakish charms until she’s sure that he’s in love with her! There’s dozens of books with this basic plots. Thing is, Georgette Heyer wrote this story over 50 years ago, and wrote it perfectly.
I confess that I had never heard about Georgette Heyer until a few months ago. Then, as I turned to historical romance in my quest for period pieces with female leads, I kept seeing her name mentioned as the creator of the genre. I did some digging around, got curious, and decided to check out one of her books. Now, I was going to give this 4.5 teacups because there were some boring bits in the last few chapters, and also I felt silly for gushing over a silly romance, but I sat on this review for a while and I just keep smiling whenever I think about this story, so I’m giving this 5 teacups and you can’t stop me.
Venetia is adorable, and the perfect heroine. She can be naive at times but she’s never painfully stupid, and she is quite shockingly modern but at the same time follows convention, or at least tries to find creative ways to circumvent them without outright flaunting them. And then there’s Damerel… I could gush about Damerel at length because I love a well-written rake. I loved his interactions with Venetia, and the fact that there were several layers to him, like when he bonded with Venetia’s brother over their mutual passion for the classics. I liked Venetia’s brother, too, by the way. It was so nice to have well-rounded secondary characters whose lives don’t revolve around the hero and heroine getting together.
The banter is awesome, I kept smiling whenever Venetia and Damerel were talking because they played so well off each other. They’re the perfect example of a romance couple done right, they have chemistry and I was obviously rooting for them to finally get married and spend the rest of their lives together — while at the same time hoping it wouldn’t happen for a while yet, because I didn’t want the book to end. And the period details are top-notch, the language sounds right, people act all… properly proper. This includes no pre-marital hanky-panky, or indeed any hanky-panky at all on screen, if you don’t care for that sort of thing.
I’m definitely going to read more of Heyer’s books. I’m just crossing my fingers that I’m not disappointed: I’ve got this really weird thing going on where I read a book by a new romance author that I really like, so I go looking for all of her stuff, and none of her books are as good as that first. But right now? If you haven’t read Georgette Heyer yet, you should do so! And if you have, you should tell me all about your favourites so I know what to read next!