or The Wicked Uncle
by Georgette Heyer
Mass Market Paperback:
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Released: 1985, 1957
Source: Bought through Half.com
Book Description, my take:
Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, takes his responsibilities very serious, and he's decided that it's time for him to marry--but he hasn't yet met a woman he loves. When his mother mentions the daughter of her dead best friend, he decides to meet the girl.
Phoebe Marlow had a poor showing during her London season, and she wrote a novel mocking the silliness of the ton after she came back to the country. She makes Sylvester the villain due to his slanted eyebrows. When she's told that he's coming to ask her to marry him, there's only one thing to do--run away!
She ends up stranded at a small inn in a snowstorm with an injured companion, so she welcomes Sylvester's help once she's told he didn't intend to marry her. Still, she's offended by his sometimes aloof attitude and occasional thoughtless actions, and she blames him for causing her to run away. She knows that he's not the villain she's made him out to be, but surely his pride will never forgive her for portraying him as one...
Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle is a historical adventure/romance set in Regency era England. I like Heyer's funny novels, but it turned out that this one had more scornful criticism than humorous dialogue or events. It also had a lot more adventure, including a kidnapping and travel in France. It was very exciting, and I hated putting the book down because I could never guess what would happen next.
I didn't really like the "romance," though. There were moments when I could see that Sylvester and Phoebe could get along very well, but Phoebe spent most of their time together criticizing Sylvester (not because he's bad, but because he isn't perfect) and blaming him for provoking her bad behavior. I suspect she did this because she was very insecure and felt like she'd be safer if she was constantly on the attack and could pretend to have the moral high ground. Sylvester took it all like a gentleman, apologized when he did wrong, and even modified his behavior when she made valid criticisms. He kept rescuing her from the consequences of her rash actions.
But if they'd been a modern, married couple, they'd be filing for divorce. They're going to have a miserable marriage. Even Sylvester's mother thinks this is the likely result, though she hopes it's the making of them instead. So it's not the "they're better people when together than when apart" type romance I like.
There was no sex. There was some explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to those interested in reading all of Heyer's books, those interested in the adventure part of it, or those who don't mind "always fighting" romance novels.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.