After falling head over heels in love with Sir Waldo Hawkridge in The Nonesuch, I thought that no other male protagonist would come close to being as wonderful as he. But now I’ve decided that the Duke of Salford, also known as the titular Sylvester, comes a close second. He’s charming (though a bit conceited) and strong-willed and is entirely devoted to his mother. At the age of twenty-eight, he’s finally decided to take a wife and his mother and godmother think Phoebe Marlow might be just the girl for him. Unfortunately, he unknowingly snubbed young Phoebe at Almack’s last season and she subsequently cast him as the evil Count Ugolino in the novel she secretly wrote. And what’s worse, the character has more in common with the Duke than Phoebe ever knew and, once the novel is published, it will be impossible to hide the fact that she once thought him insufferable. What follows is part romance and part comedy as these two attempt to put aside all fictions and discover who the other one really is.
Though borrowing quite heavily from Pride and Prejudice (of which there are heaps of both), this was still a fun story. Phoebe is a bit manic for my tastes but she’s also very entertaining and I have to give her credit for standing her ground and contemplating having a career instead of just becoming a wife and mother. The plot of this story becomes a bit far-fetched by the end but it was easily forgivable.
My favorite character in the story (besides Sylvester, of course) has to be the outrageous Sir Nugent Fotherby, who is described in thefollowing tongue-in-cheek way —
“Other men might envy Sir Nugent; they could not despise him, for his pedigree was impeccable, his fortune exceeded sixty thousand pounds a year, and he had it on the authority of those boon-companions whom Lord Marlow rudely stigmatized as barnacles that, just as in all manners of fashion he was the finest Pink of the Ton, in the world of sport he figured as a Nonpareil, a regular Top-of-the-Trees, a Sure Card, up to all kinds of slums, never to be beaten on any suit.”
Sir Nugent is so ridiculous and is the perfect caricature of the Regency dandy. There are a few other stellar supporting characters in the story and I enjoyed almost every moment with them. This is one of the best Heyer romances I’ve read so far and would be a great choice for a reader new to her work as it’s not overly heavy on the period slang.
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