The Convenient Marriage (Abridged)
Georgette Heyer (Narrated by Richard Armitage)
This is one of Heyer’s Regency romances, a third-person narrative with the well-researched detailed of dress, manner and setting that you expect from this author.
The basic plot of the story is that the Earl of Rule has proposed marriage to a young woman he has never met who is of good family. She already has an understanding with someone else and her younger sister Horatia pays a visit to Rule and proposes herself as a replacement bride. Rule, amused, accepts her offer and the two marry. The story then picks up when they return from honeymoon, taking in Rule’s mistress, The Massey; his enemy, Lord Lethbridge; his grasping relative, Drelincourt, and Horatia’s impulsive brother Pelham. No sub-plots here as there often are in Heyer books (Cotilion being the most recent example I can site) – the romance in question is that which develops between husband and wife.
Horatia Winwood is a delightful Heyer heroine. She isn’t perfect, which is always pleasant, has a weakness for gambling, a stubborn temperament and a fierce sense of loyalty.
The Earl of Rule is an impressive male lead but I have to say I don't think he is as three-dimensional as some of Heyer's other heroes. He is practically infallible, is routinely two steps ahead of everyone else and is always appears to be in charge of the situation. This makes him a reliable alpha hero but also a bit forgettable after the story is done in a way that Horatio is not. Counter-acting this is Lord Lethbridge, one of Heyer’s more devious rakes, a man bent on revenge and not caring who he ruins in the process. Horatia’s brother Pelham is an impetuous and brash young man, a committed gambler capable of hot-headed reaction which often comes in to conflict with Rule’s cool and clear-headed approach.
Listening to this audiobook with modern ears, there is a scene where Lethbridge contrives to put Horatia in a compromising situation and makes it clear she’s ruined anyway so she might as well enjoy the process. Horatia is able to escape from him before any physical damage is done but there is no acknowledgement given to how horrid a situation that was to be put in. Like I say, I recognise this is a modern reaction but feel I need to mention it nonetheless as it could be a possible trigger for someone. This scene aside, the book is an entertaining piece of lovingly detailed fluff. My favourite part of the book is when Pelham determines the only way to retrieve a certain incriminating piece of evidence is to turn highwayman and steal it back. Things do not go to plan . . .
Richard Armitage is an excellent choice for narrator. His characterisations, especially of Pelham, Rule, Lethbridge and the foppish Drelincourt, are spot on. He has a lovely voice.
My rating: 8 out of 10 bonnets