Squee Hearts: None
Black Marks: None
Testrogen Level: Low
I came up with this series while reading a Regency romance last week. Just as I don't like to speak bad about my role model, Georgette Heyer, I don't like to speak mostly bad about the men I review for blog series. After all, "if one doesn't have anything nice to say, one shouldn't say anything at all" goes the old saying. But I do have some nice to speak about the main character, Adam Deveril aka Viscount Lynton.
Lynton is of the Quality, but his late father left him with a mountain of debt, and he is considering selling his estates, which cares deeply for, to cover it and to make sure his sisters have their dowries and are cared for. Though he has some initial qualms about it, he makes a marriage of convenience with a very wealthy Cit's daughter--a Cit being a member of the merchant class who does business in the City section of London. The problem is Lynton is in love with a woman of his own class, Miss Julia Oversley, and because of his debt state, he has to call off the engagement. Though that is not the end of their relationship.
Lynton has a strong sense of responsibility and duty and awareness of when he does wrong, but he also has a strong sense of pride. This pride is most obvious when his father-in-law keeps trying to dump expensive gifts on his son-in-law, but Lynton has the self-restraint to not let his own pride offend his father-in-law. Pride is well and good in men, but when it rubs shoulders with negative habits, not so much. Especially when this negative habit is a big one.
The reason why I almost didn't review this novel was Lynton's relationship with Julia. Time after time, he keeps falling into the trap of letting his feelings for her get out of hand, and when it does happen, he generally compares his wife, Jenny, unfavorably with Julia. Sometimes he realizes how unfair this situation is for his wife, but not often enough to make him get a grip on himself. At least, despite this, he intends on being faithful to his wife. Still his behavior is so hard to get past, for his wife is the beau ideal of the Christian wife, who thinks of his comfort first and puts his needs first. I also think she loves him, but that's not as obvious as Julia's open affections and displays.
Towards the end of the novel, Lynton does finally admit: "[Julia] would have discovered me to be a dead bore, poor girl, and I am much better off with my Jenny" (Heyer 420). But I agree with Jenny after hearing this admission that "[Julia] had been tiresome today, putting him out of love with her, but Jenny did not think that this revulsion would last" (Heyer 421). However, Jenny does believe that by this point Lynton depends upon her and that they will have "many years of quiet content," but she doesn't speak of romantic love from him but of "living together in comfort and deepening friendship" (Heyer 421). Not exactly a resounding note of success in a romance novel.
So, while A Civil Contract doesn't get any stars or hearts, it doesn't get any black marks either. It's just on the edge of both, and over all, the testrogen levels are quite low.
- Heyer, Georgette. A Civil Contract. 1961. Naperville: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011. Print.