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Feb 11, 2010

Book Review: The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebooks reissue, December 2009; originally published 1928
Product ISBN: 9781402219504
Price: $13.99
Review Copy provided by Sourcebooks
The Burton Review Rating:3.5 Stars

Such a daring escape…

Their infamous adventurer father has taught Prudence Tremaine and her brother Robin to be masters of disguise. Ending up on the wrong side of the Jacobite rebellion, brother and sister flee to London, Prudence pretending to be a dashing young buck, and Robin a lovely young lady.

Could cost them both their hearts…
Then Prudence meets the elegant Sir Anthony Fanshawe, and Robin becomes the mysterious hero of the charming Letitia Grayson, and in order to have what they truly want, the two masqueraders must find a way to unmask themselves without losing their lives…

I must confess.. this novel took me awhile to endear itself to me. More than half of the book I was scratching my head trying to figure out the main POINT to the masquerading. A boy and a girl.. masquerading as opposite genders and I just couldn't fathom why. Sure, I knew the dad was in a heap of trouble.. they were in hiding.. and were used to this stuff and were having fun pulling the wool over every one's eyes. A Jacobite rebellion, they were on the wrong side, and needed to have other identities. But for some reason I had thought they were masquerading as each other, and that doesn't make much sense does it? And then a host of male characters coming and going and I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. So then I google for reviews, and imagine my horror and astonishment that others are touting this as their favorite Heyer! What in goodness's name was WRONG with me?

Alas.. I happened upon this one single review and the light bulb goes off (thank you!). The background fills in, I understand and the picture of typical hilarious Heyer hijinx is revealed to me. I am so utterly thick sometimes I wonder where my brain is. Ok, so all of that behind of me.. where does this leave the book with me in the long run?

No, not another five star read.. how could it with that unfathomable beginning? But I am grateful that I did continue on, because the ambitiousness of this story is really imaginative. It is full of rough and tumble scenes, particularly with Prudence who is masquerading as a Mr. Peter Merriot, who is quick on her/his feet with a sword. Her brother, a sprightly little man called Robin, is masquerading as a Miss Kate Merriot is silly as he flirts with Prudence's admirer...then he goes even further incognito and becomes a man again but must wear a mask so that he is only known as the Black Domino.. So fun that people walked around with swords on their hips back in the day. Hence.. the aptitude for duels, and there are quite a few here. We also have incorrigible characters who are also card players, another fun past time of the day.. and then the romances are noteworthy of course, especially with the whole cross-gendering thing.

There are quite a few charming and fascinating themes in this story, with fun little inside-style type jokes that made me grin. I was charmed by the calling of their father "The Old Gentleman" (who is so totally completely over the top full of himself); and the romance interest of Prudence, Sir Anthony Fanshawe was affectionately known as "The Mountain" were silly names but so fitting; themes of blackmail saves the day once again..masqueraders that get in further and further with no hope of escaping suspicion.

The scrapes and twisting plots are really intriguing and reach a fun climax towards the end, and I am very glad to have continued through with this Georgian historical romance. I do understand where those slightly more intelligent than I have chosen this one as their favorite. So far, that is still Arabella for me. For those who are just beginning on their Georgette Heyer journey, I beg of you to not choose this one. There are 50 more of her works that will probably suck you in a lot more quicker than this one will, and who wants to start with one that could leave a bad taste in their mouth? Because I assure you, Heyer is certainly worth your time, and after you have about 7 or 8 under your belt you should be ready for the absolute ingenious quality of The Masqueraders.

See my other Georgette Heyer posts here or here.