- Hero #1: Tall, usually dark, and definitely handsome. Almost always has a past. While highly unlikely to actually mistreat the heroine, he's not above scaring her into submission (however, as he's often dealing with Heroine #1, it's unlikely to work).
- Hero #2: This is the consummate gentleman, who invariably comes up with the perfect response to any situation. Their usual role is to provide the heroine with an escape from any difficulties, whereas Hero #1 is frequently the cause of those difficulties.
- Heroine #1: A lively young woman. She naturally gets herself into many a social scrape, from which the hero must rescue her, and either bounces back or feels humiliated deep down inside that he saw her in such a state.
- Heroine #2: Overlooked and ignored, she may seem quiet. However, once the hero talks to her, or needs help, Heroine #2 comes into her own and reveals Hidden Depths.
Tropes present in most Heyers include:
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: The heroes very often have acknowledged mistresses and/or "bits of muslin" in their pasts. (Truth in Television to a degree, but sometimes the information is mentioned so pointedly that it's clear the main purpose is to ensure that the reader knows the hero is sexually experienced.)
- Asshole Victim: Always present in her whodunnits.
- Author Appeal: Expect at least one kiss to be described as "crushing."
- Costume Porn: Clothing will be described in loving detail. As many of her heroes are Sharp Dressed Men, the men's clothing will very likely be described in even more detail than the women's.
- Deadpan Snarker: Hero #1 almost certainly; frequently Hero #2 as well. Less common but far from unknown among the heroines; it may come up as part of Heroine #2's Hidden Depths. Given Heyer's milieu, the character is usually a Gentleman Snarker as well.
- Happily Ever After
- Historical-Domain Character: Her Regency and historical novels are peppered with cameo appearances by real people.
Individual works provide examples of:
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A Blunt Instrument
- Beware the Nice Ones: The first victim is originally portrayed as a nice old guy... however, it soons turns out he's a Dirty Old Man, which explains why he was killed.
- Fair Play Whodunnit: Might be intentional... but if not, she was probably having an off day.
- The Fundamentalist: Constable Glass, Up to Eleven.
- Reality Ensues: One early chapter includes some of the suspects thinking about how to get some IOUs out of a safe. Failing completely, they immediately lampshade the situation by pointing out how much easier it would be if they were all characters in a detective novel.
- Arranged Marriage: Actually a love match that both participants think is an arranged marriage.
- Beta Couple: Letty and Mr. Allandale.
- Big Secret: Nell's bill from the dressmaker. Leads to a half-serious case of Mistaken for Cheating.
- Bratty Teenage Ward: Letty combines this with Annoying Younger Sibling and Drama Queen (but still manages to be lovable).
- Credit Card Plot: A Regency variant, with Nell's bills in place of the credit card.
- Elopement: Hilariously averted by the ever-respectable Mr. Allandale, even when Letty has strong hysterics to persuade him.
- The Gambling Addict: Dysart.
- Love at First Sight
- Masquerade Ball
- Unable to Support a Wife: The reason Giles isn't worried about Allandale and Letty trying to elope. Letty would take more supporting than the average wife. Things change when Allandale gets the offer to go to Brazil.
- Uptight Loves Wild: Allandale and Letty.
- Credit Card Plot: For Bertram.
- Elopement: Started, but Arabella decides she can't go through with it. Much to Mr. Beaumaris's amusement and gratification.
- Happily Married: Arabella's parents.
- Meet Cute
- Mouthy Kid
- Preacher's Kid: Arabella and Bertram.
- Rich Boredom: Robert Beaumaris. He's especially bored with Gold Diggers.
- Secret Test of Character
- Snowball Lie
- First Love
- Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: in-universe example with Glenarvon—Serena considers it So Bad, It's Good and is highly entertained by trying to match the characters to the real people they're based on.
- Ironic Name: Serena is actually a Fiery Redhead.
- Love Triangle: Two of them: Serena/Hector/Fanny, Serena/Rotherham/Emily.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The story begins with the death of Serena's father, leading to her discovery that he has named her former fiance as her guardian.
- Runaway Fiancée: Subverted: Serena persuades her to go back to Rotherham, who is highly annoyed at Serena ruining his plan.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts
- Social Climber: Lady Laleham. She's a combination of butt-kisser and snob on her own part, and also a gold-digger on her daughter's behalf.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Serena and Rotherham.
- Working with the Ex: Serena doesn't have a job, but she has to deal with Rotherham on business matters when he becomes her guardian.
- Wrong Guy First
Behold, Here's Poison
The Black Moth
- Aloof Big Brother: Tracy.
- Annoying Younger Siblings: A grown-up example in Lavinia and Andrew.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Two-for-one example, as Tracy arranges for Lavinia and Richard to stay together, and keep him in reach of the Carstares' money.
- Beta Couple: Richard and Lavinia, whose subplot is arguably more entertaining than the main's.
- Clear My Name
- Distressed Damsel
- Dysfunctional Family: both the Carstares and Belmanoirs.
- The Gambling Addict: Andrew.
- Graceful Loser
- Handsome Devil: Tracy
- Happily Married: Sir Miles and Molly O'Hara.
- Heel Realization: Lavinia vaguely realizes how shallow and petty she and the rest of her family is...but it never makes a particularly deep impression.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Tried twice. Failed. Twice.
- Impoverished Patrician: The Belmanoirs.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Combined with The Highwayman.
- Plot-Triggering Death: The death of Jack and Richard's father leads the family lawyer to try to locate Jack, who has not been seen for six years.
- Poor Communication Kills: Justified; they're idiots.
- Purple Prose: Tracy verbally lapses into this when describing Diana's eyes to Lavinia.Her Ladyship had recourse to the smelling-salts.
- Love Makes You Dumb: and HOW.
- Love Redeems: Tracy's friends hope for this...but, nope! Guess he'll have to wait for the sequel (or at least the Spiritual Successor, These Old Shades).
- Make Up or Break Up: Richard and Lavinia. They stay together.
- Mistaken for Cheating
- Rescue Romance
- The Dutiful Son
- Title Drop: numerous times.
- Thicker Than Water: What saves the Belmanoirs from being utter bastards.
- Uh-Oh Eyes: Tracy's "catlike," slanted Green Eyes, lovingly and repeatedly mentioned by the narrator.
- Uptight Loves Wild: Richard and Lavinia.
- Abduction Is Love: Parodied: Miles kidnaps Abby in the end, but she's just irritated at him for being presumptuous; when he offers to take her back to her family if she says she really doesn't want to marry him, she replies that he can abduct her, but he can't make her tell a lie.
- Batman Gambit: Miles hiring a prostitute to trick Stacey.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted with Stacey Calverleigh.
- The Charmer: Most characters (except Abby) find Stacey to be this.
- Averted by a timely attack of influenza.
- Also, the big reason Miles is the "black sheep" of his family is that he once attempted to elope with Fanny's mother.
- Genre Savvy: Abby refuses to pull a Parental Marriage Veto on Fanny, knowing Fanny will try to elope with Stacey if she does.
- Gold Digger: Stacey is a male example.
- Humiliation Conga: For Stacey Calverleigh.
- Hypochondria: Selina's favorite pastime.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Between Abby and Miles early on, when she thinks he's the other Mr. Calverleigh.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Abby and Selina.
- Underdressed for the Occasion: Miles shocks some people by paying morning calls in riding dress.
- Virginity Makes You Stupid: Fanny.
- Childhood Friend Romance
- Distressed Damsel: But not the heroine herself.
- Green-Eyed Epiphany: Implied. Both Desford and the heroine experience the jealousy, but the epiphany part happens off-page.
- Honorable Marriage Proposal: Discussed; Cherry's father says that Desford should offer to marry Cherry to save her reputation after he took her to London. Everyone who hears the idea laughs it off, as Desford went to great lengths to make sure Cherry's reputation was not damaged.
- The Ingenue: Cherry, who is even referred to as such at one point.
- Just Friends
A Civil Contract
- Arranged Marriage: Jenny and Adam.
- Bittersweet Ending: Unusually, for a Heyer novel.
- First Love
- Historical In-Joke: Adam buying Government stock just before Waterloo.
- It Will Never Catch On: Jenny's father warning Adam that Wellington is bound to lose at Waterloo.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Parodied: Adam pretends to be doubtful about Brough's intentions.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Adam and Jenny, as despite initial appearances they're both willing to try and make it work - Jenny rather more so, of course - and suit each other well.
- Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Adam barely registers Jenny's existence until he finds out he's bankrupt and she has lots of money.
The Convenient Marriage
- Arranged Marriage: Horatia and Rule.
- The Baroness / Woman Scorned: Caroline Massey.
- Best Served Cold: Lethbridge has been waiting seven years to get his revenge on Rule for foiling his attempt to elope with Rule's sister.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Viscount Winwood and company.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Lethbridge's intention for Horatia. Eventually leads to I Have You Now, My Pretty, foiled by a Tap on the Head.
- Duel to the Death: Two, in fact, although neither ends in death.
- Gambit Pileup: Lady Massey is out to get Rule back; Lord Lethbridge is out to compromise Horatia in order to humiliate her husband; Drelincourt wants to destroy the marriage so he won't be displaced in the succession to the Earldom; Viscount Windwood wants to protect his sister; Horatia wants to save her marriage - and Rule wants exactly the same thing. The intersection of all these plots and plans results in a confused whirlwind of duels, risque parties, kidnapping, attempted murder, highwaymen and an heirloom brooch.
- The Gambling Addict: Several members of the Winwood family have "the fatal weakness."
- Gem-Encrusted: Horatia buys a pair of shoes with emerald-studded heels.
- The Highwayman: Played with. If a highwayman appears, either someone hired him for an ulterior purpose, or he's a major character in disguise.
- I Am Not Pretty: "Horry" is certainly unconventional, with a Speech Impediment and straight, heavy eyebrows, but Rule finds her charming just the way she is.
- Masquerade Ball
- MacGuffin: Everybody wants Horry's heirloom ring brooch.
- Milholland Relationship Moment: several, actually, but most notably Horatia's confession after Ranelagh.
- Rescue Romance: How Lethbridge gets Horry's attention.
- Signature Item Clue: Horatia loses her distinctive heirloom ring brooch at Lethbridge's home.
- Spirited Young Lady: Horatia is this.
- Throwing Down the Gauntlet:
- Viscount Winwood provokes Drelincourt into challenging him to a duel by first insulting and then stamping on his hat.
- In a more metaphorical sense, Horatia leaves Rule a defiant message before going off to Ranelagh.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Horry's Impoverished Patrician family desperately needs the match with the wealthy Earl of Rule but the beautiful elder sister is in love with another man. Horry very sensibly goes to Rule who is marrying for the bloodline not love, and asks if she won't do instead? He decides she would.
- Zany Scheme: Any plan Horry and her brother come up with.
- Attractive Bent-Gender
- Childhood Marriage Promise: Pen and Piers Luttrell ... for all the good it does them
- MacGuffin: The diamond necklace.
- Meet Cute: The hero comes across the heroine dangling by a knotted sheet out her bedroom window (she's running away).
- Mistaken for Gay: Implicit; and then at the end several Innocent Bystanders see the hero "ruthlessly" kissing the heroine — who's still dressed as a boy.
- Race for Your Love
- Romantic False Lead/Disposable Fiancée : Does any reader seriously think Richard will marry Melissa?
- Runaway Fiancé
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Parodied with the Beta Couple.
- Sweet Polly Oliver
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: The heroine is this.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Subverted.
- Converting for Love: It's mentioned in passing that Olivia will probably have to become a Catholic to marry Camille.
- Genius Ditz: Freddy.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Parodied: Camille makes extravagant proclamations of what he would do to save Olivia, but is surprised when practical Freddy suggests simply eloping with her. Also played subtly straight with Freddy submitting to a day of sightseeing with Kitty.
- Gray Eyes: The extremely smart and perceptive Lord Legerwood.
- Hands-On Approach: Freddy and Kitty dancing.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Freddy tries to do this for Kitty, despite genuine reservations about Jack beyond simple jealousy.
- Kick the Dog: Jack blackmails Camille and insults Freddy.
- Love at First Sight: Camille and Olivia.
- Loving a Shadow: Kitty's realisation that she only ever loved her childhood hero, not Jack himself.
- Masquerade Ball: Kitty has a miserable time at one of these until Freddy rescues her.
- Operation Jealousy: Kitty tries one of these on Jack.
- Poirot Speak: Camille.
- Professional Gambler: Jack, Camille.
- Reformed Rakes: Subverted: not only is Jack not planning to reform for Kitty's sake, he's actively trying to seduce a friend of hers while courting her.
- Runaway Fiancé: Sort of: Kitty is running away from the possibility of being forced into an engagement to please her guardian, before coming up with a better plan.
- Secret Relationship: Freddy and Kitty pretend to have one of these.
- Wrong Guy First
- Animal Hoarding: The animals in question are Pekinese dogs. Justified in that the woman who owns them breeds them, but she still treats them like they're her children and gives them weird names like Ulysses.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: The Asshole Victim tried this, simply to become The Chessmaster of the county.
- Driven to Suicide: The Smug Snake's late brother claimed this is what the Smug Snake had done to him in a letter... Actually, it was murder made to look like suicide, which the Asshole Victim was blackmailing the Smug Snake about, hence why he was killed.
- This Is a Work of Fiction: As Heyer herself states at the very beginning of the book:There are some who may believe that this book is about them. They are, in fact, mistaken.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Although Mary mocks Vidal as being no more than bratty and not nearly as bad as he thinks he is.
- Continuity Nod: Avon deplores Vidal's lack of finesse in methods of daylight abduction.
- Distressed Damsel: Subverted: Mary shoots Vidal when he comes near her and derides crying and screaming as a useless ploy when in trouble.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Mary and Sophia.
- Honorable Marriage Proposal: First Vidal insists he must marry Mary to make up for compromising her reputation by taking her to France with him. Then Mr. Comyn offers her a way out of that dilemma by offering to marry her himself.
- Happily Married: Avon and Léonie from These Old Shades.
- Innocent Cohabitation: It may not have been intended as such, but Vidal goes to great lengths to make sure everyone knows he and Mary have not had sex.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: See Twin Switch below.
- Parent Ex Machina: Avon.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Mary fully expects one of these from Vidal's parents, so she runs away before they get there; averted because they both thoroughly approve of her.
- Poirot Speak: Léonie.
- Rescue Romance: Averted: Vidal is what Mary needs to be rescued from.
- Troubled, but Cute: Vidal.
- Twin Switch: Sort of: Mary, although not Sophia's twin, swaps places with her in her elopement with Vidal in order to put him off.
- Becoming the Mask
- Emergency Impersonation
- Fat Idiot / Fat Slob: Averted with Bonamy Ripple. He may be enormously fat, but he's a fastidious dresser and surprisingly perceptive (given his easygoing nature).
- Florence Nightingale Effect: What Evelyn is experiencing while Kit takes his place.
- Ms. Red Ink: Lady Denville.
- Noodle Incident: Just what did the twins do to get themselves sent down from Oxford? Whatever it was, they consider it one of their best stunts, and the students are still talking about it years later.
- Twin Switch: The entire premise.
- Twin Telepathy: Kit rushes back to England because he has a premonition that Evelyn is in trouble. He is also sure that Evelyn isn't dead, even as time drags on with no sign of him.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Deborah has Max kidnapped and apologises for her servants going about it so roughly.
- Masochism Tango: It's Played for Laughs, but Deborah and Max have this in spades. She kidnaps him, for heaven's sake.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: both Max and Deborah.
- The Matchmaker: Deb for Lord Mablethorpe and Phoebe.
- The Vamp: Max believes Deborah to be this.
- Cool Big Sis: Frederica.
- Face Palm:"You might well!' said Alverstoke, who had sunk his brow on his hand.
- Love at First Sight: Charis and her suitor.
- Mouthy Kid: Felix.
- Promotion to Parent: Frederica.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Invoked when Felix is pleading with Alverstoke.
- Spirited Young Lady: Frederica is a slightly more responsible version of this.
- Alpha Bitch: Isabella could be, but most of her unpleasant moments are also her most sympathetic.
- Beta Couple: George and Isabella.
- The Bro Code: Essentially the reason why Sherry throws a fit at the idea of George and Hero having an affair - that, and he's in love with Hero, of course.
- Byronic Hero: Invoked and parodied - George would love to be this.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Hero, Ferdy.
- Coming-of-Age Story: Sherry, Hero to an extent.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Isabella.
- Duel to the Death: George is constantly spoiling for one. He gets his wish when Sherry catches him giving Hero a brotherly kiss, but neither of them dies.
- Friendless Background: Hero seems to have only had two friends in her life prior to marrying Sherry, one of whom was him, the other being Isabella, and neither of them seem to have paid her much attention.
- Kick the Dog: Revesby, first when he rejects his discarded mistress and illegitimate infant daughter and second when he arranges for Hero to get into debt.
- Lovable Coward: Ferdy, whom Sherry can't even stay angry with when he finds out Ferdy hid his wife from him for weeks because Ferdy is so shamelessly trying to placate him.
- Marry for Love: Isabella eventually cracks and admits that this is what she wants.
- Masquerade Ball: Hero gets into trouble at one of these as a result of Sherry ditching her.
- Meet Cute: While it is not their first-ever meeting, the first time Sherry and Hero meet in the book is when Sherry accidentally comes across Hero crying on a wall and proposes marriage.
- Reformed Rakes: Part of Sherry's Character Development.
- Relationship Upgrade: Sherry elopes with Hero in the first few chapters.
- Shrinking Violet: Hero.
- Tsundere: Isabella.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Hero.
The Grand Sophy
- Beta Couple: Cecilia and Charlbury, among others.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends
- The Chessmaster: Sophy, of course.
- Genre Savvy: Sophy's management of the Augustus/Cecilia/Charlbury triangle relies heavily on her knowledge of how Cecilia perceives the tropes involved.
- Greedy Jew: Goldhanger, the moneylender, is very likely meant as one.
- Licked by the Dog: Everyone thinks Charles is a domestic tyrant, but Sophy knows better...because every animal in the novel loves and trusts him, of course!
- Locked in a Room: Subverted: Eugenia and Augustus are locked in a wood, but emerge only extremely annoyed.
- Love at First Sight: Parodied with Cecilia and Augustus.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Sophy shoots a friend in the arm with only the noblest of intentions.
- Pair the Spares
- Poirot Speak: Sancia.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Sophy and Charles.
- Triang Relations: Sophy/Charles/Eugenia, Augustus/Cecilia/Charlbury, Sir Horace/Sancia/Vincent Talgarth.
- Wrong Guy First: Cecilia and Augustus.
The Great Roxhythe
An Infamous Army
Lady of Quality
My Lord John
No Wind of Blame
- Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: The murder method is this in spades!
- Abusive Dad/Asshole Victim: Penhallow himself.
- Downer Ending: Unusual for a Heyer novel, but it's a doozy. Penhallow's death doesn't make things better; in fact, it makes things even worse. The family are drawn together even tighter, even though few of them wish to be so, and the eldest is Driven to Suicide because he thinks he'll be implicated by the Literal And Figurative Bastard, although on the last page it's revealed that the bastard in question did nothing of the sort. The police never catch the killer at the end, making the whole thing one big Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story. Some Heyer fans suspect that she was writing this book to make up for all the cheeriness in all of her other novels!
- Open Mystery: You know full well who killed Penhallow... and you don't blame her.
- Police Are Useless: The policeman in charge of the case actually thinks Penhallow was a pretty generous patriarch, and the rest of the family were just being whiny spongers.
- The Unfavourite: Technically, every one of Penhallow's children - legitimate or otherwise - qualify, but his youngest son definitely qualifies.
Pistols For Two
- Accidental Marriage: In "Hazard", the hero is so drunk when he wins the card game that he and the heroine are halfway to Gretna Green when he wakes up the next morning.
- Arranged Marriage: The hero of "Hazard" is about to go through with one of these; luckily for him, he has a Runaway Fiancé.
- Lost Him in a Card Game: "Hazard".
- Platonic Life Partners: Annabella and Tom from "Full Moon", who are very fond of each other and plan to elope only because Annabella is so horrified at the idea of marrying an old man.
- Repetitive Name: Carlington Carlington in "Hazard". Though that's probably a typo/omitted comma.
- Right in Front of Me: Annabella and Tom complain bitterly to a friendly stranger about the "horrid old friend" of Annabella's father whom she's expected to marry. Neither of them have ever met him, leading to predictable results.
Powder and Patch
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Cleone and Sir Maurice want Philip to learn to dress well and get some social graces. He does, but he is hurt that they forced him into it, so he can't resist acting like an affected fop when he returns.
- Duel to the Death: Philip fights three duels over the course of the book, though they are not to the death.
- Gay Paree: Eighteenth-century version.
- Giftedly Bad: In-universe, Philip's French friends insist he is this as a poet (though the one example of his poetry that we see is not bad at all).
- Gratuitous French: Quite a lot.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: Cleone feels this way toward Philip (and Sir Maurice agrees with her).
- Makeover Montage: Philip gets one (in text).
- Poirot Speak: From numerous French characters.
- Redundant Romance Attempt: Played with; Philip pretends to have become a foppish flirt because he wants to see whether Cleone will tell him she liked him better before.
- Took a Level in Badass: Philip becomes an expert fencer along with his other accomplishments.
The Quiet Gentleman
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Judith really does not get on with Worth for about half the book.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Worth, who is busy being an arse to Judith's face while protecting her from fortune-hunters and her brother from murderers behind her back.
- Meet Cute
- Reverse Psychology: How Worth gets Judith to take the house he wants in Brighton.
The Reluctant Widow
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Nicky, after missing Louis de Castres:I never touched him, but I did shatter his lantern, and that would have been pretty fair shooting, I can tell you, if I had been aiming at it.
- Ambiguously Gay: Francis.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Nicky Carlyon. Everyone likes him, but he certainly causes a lot of trouble!
- Asshole Victim: Nobody misses Eustace much (although his death isn't a mystery).
- Big Friendly Dog: Bouncer, except when he's guarding Elinor. Then he morphs into Angry Guard Dog.
- Bookcase Passage: Actually in a closet, but close enough.
- The Dandy: Francis. And how. He could also be seen to be something of an Agent Peacock, as it transpires he is actually a cold-blooded killer.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: How Carlyon deduces that Francis killed de Castres; he knew details about the murder that were not in any of the newspaper accounts.
- MacGuffin: The missing document.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A hilarious one between Elinor and Carlyon at the start of the book. Carlyon thinks Elinor has answered his advertisement for a woman to marry his cousin, while she thinks he's discussing a governess position.
- Promoted To Parent: The main reason, according to Elinor, for Carlyon's overbearing nature, was that he had to take charge of his younger siblings (and Eustace) from a relatively early age.
- Secret Path: The hidden entrance to Highnoons.
- Secret Relationship: The cover story for why Eustace suddenly has a wife.
Simon the Coldheart
The Spanish Bride
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Hester's brother, despite being older, fulfills this trope; Hildebrand at one point pretends to be this to Amanda and Gareth.
- Betty and Veronica: Subverted: Amanda may be far more beautiful and exciting than Hester, but Gareth has no romantic interest in her whatsoever.
- Blatant Lies: Amanda.
- Celibate Hero: Gareth.
- The First Cut Is the Deepest: Hester's fears about Gareth.
- First Girl Wins: Subverted.
- Friendless Background: Hester, who isn't close to anyone but Gareth, and not that close to Gareth when the book begins.
- I Don't Want To Ruin Our Friendship: Hester's main anxiety about rejecting Gareth's first proposal.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Hester's family are shocked that Gareth would bring his supposed mistress to their house.
- Nobody Thinks It Will Work: Gareth and Hester.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Amanda's grandfather refuses his consent to her marriage to Neil.
- Sarcastic Confession: Gareth: "Yes, I have kidnapped this young lady and am keeping her with me against her will." Amanda is furious that he would abuse the truth this way, instead of lying fluently like she does.
- Shrinking Violet: Hester.
- The Tale: Amanda spins about a dozen of these throughout the novel.
- True Companions: Gareth, Hester, Amanda and Hildebrand. Neil would probably have been adopted one way or another had the book been longer.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: Sylvester is one.
- Brainless Beauty: Both Ianthe and Sir Nugent.
- Break the Haughty: Sylvester, though a mild example.
- Dark Secret: Phoebe wrote the society novel of the year, featuring an Expy of Sylvester as the villain.
- Defrosting Ice King: Sylvester.
- Evil Eyebrows: The thing that makes Sylvester so easily identifiable as the villain in Phoebe's novel.
- Evil Uncle: Subverted: Sylvester is perceived to be this by everyone, but he's actually a far better Parental Figure than the boy's mother.
- It's All About Me: Ianthe is convinced that The Lost Heir was written for the express purpose of warning her about Sylvester.
- Like Brother and Sister: Phoebe and Tom.
- Mouthy Kid: Edmund.
- The Proud Elite: Sylvester, especially at the beginning.
- Wardrobe Wound: Sir Nugent goes into fits when a dog bites the tassels off his boots. Earlier, he is deeply pained at having to cut a button off his coat (thinking it will placate Edmund, who is actually crying for Button, his nurse).
The Talisman Ring
These Old Shades
- Aloof Big Brother: Avon.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Rupert and Fanny.
- Best Served Cold: The enmity between Avon and St. Vire goes back twenty years.
- Expy: Justin, Hugh, the Marlings, and the Merrivales are all Expys of the characters from The Black Moth, making this book a Spiritual Successor.
- Fiery Redhead: Léonie.
- Happily Married: Fanny and Edward. Also, Anthony and Jennifer.
- Heir Club for Men: St. Vire exchanged his newborn daughter for the son of a peasant family in order to prevent his brother from inheriting his title.
- Magnificent Bastard: Avon. The "bastard" part gets reformed at least slightly, but the "magnificent" part is still going strong in the next book, Devil's Cub.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Léonie is arguably this to Avon.
- Morality Pet: Léonie acts as one of these.
- The Plan: Avon with Léonie.
- Poirot Speak: Léonie.
- Wholesome Crossdresser
The Unfinished Clue
- Asshole Victim / Complete Monster / Abusive Dad: Sir Arthur Billington-Smith
- Cultural Stereotypes: Lola de Silva and her agent, a Greedy Jew.
- I Have No Son: Arthur Billington-Smith tried to do this and that was why he was killed.
- Mama Bear: The murderess was Billington-Smith's first wife, making sure her son wasn't disinherited. The unfinished clue is the word "There", the last thing he wrote. In spite of most people not paying too much attention to it, TheInspector realises it's the first letters of Theresa, the Major's first wife.
The Unknown Ajax
- Crusty Caretaker: Spurstow (a handy way of making people reluctant to visit him).
- The Dandy: Claud.
- Girlfriend in Canada: Upon finding out that Lord Darracott intends for him to marry Anthea, Hugo invents a fiancée back in Yorkshire. (Anthea has already said that she doesn't want to marry him, but apparently he feels he must be more tactful.)
- Inspector Javert: Lieutenant Ottershaw with his near-fanatical pursuit of smugglers.
- Kissing Cousins
- Mysterious Past: Hugo, eventually revealed.
- My Valet-Fu is Stronger Than Yours: Crimplesham and Polyphant (Vincent and Claud's valets, respectively) spend a great deal of time trying to one-up each other.
- Obfuscating Stupidity
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Aunt Aurelia is the only character to notice that Hugo's Oop North accent goes away, rather than appears, when he's not paying attention.
- Oop North: Hugo milks this for all he's worth, pretending to be a Fish out of Water in genteel surroundings, and very much enjoys the reactions of his relatives—until Anthea corners him and forces him to admit he was actually educated at Harrow.
- The Patriarch: Lord Darracott.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: The truth behind the supposedly-haunted Dower House.
- Secret Underground Passage
- Unexpected Successor: Hugo becomes the heir after Lord Darracott's eldest son and grandson are drowned in a boating accident.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Aubrey to an extent, although Conway is far worse despite never actually appearing.
- Beneath the Mask: Damerel has thrown himself into the lifestyle of a rake after ruining his own reputation through a youthful mistake, but Venetia gets to see a different side of him.
- Brother-Sister Team: Aubrey and Venetia have elements of this.
- Cool Big Sis: Venetia.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Damerel.
- Double Standard: Played with; Damerel arguably suffered more for running off with a married woman than she did.
- Emo Teen: Oswald, who desperately wishes he was a Byronic Hero."He is brooding over nameless crimes, I daresay, and only think how disheartening to have his dark thoughts mistaken for a fit of the sulks!"
- Faking the Dead: Venetia's mother ran off with a lover and was divorced by her father; he told the children that she had died suddenly.
- Forceful Kiss: Oswald tries this on Venetia.
- The Ghost: Conway is often talked about, and various of his offstage actions are important to the plot, but he never appears.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Damerel sends Venetia away due to the irreparable damage that would be done to her reputation if they married.
- Moment Killer: Every time Damerel tries to propose to Venetia, Aubrey pops up.
- Nobody Thinks It Will Work: Everyone, with the exception of Aubrey and Venetia – and including Damerel – thinks Damerel and Venetia will be miserable together.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: An inversion of sorts, as it is Conway's new mother-in-law who makes things miserable for Venetia when she moves in.
- Pair the Spares: It's hinted that Edward Yardley and Clara Denny will probably marry after being rejected by Venetia and Conway, respectively.
- Reformed Rakes: Played with more than used straight. Damerel won't seduce Venetia, but it's up to interpretation how much his way of life will change. He might just be joking about having his wife preside over an orgy...
Why Shoot A Butler?
- Amateur Sleuth: Frank Amberley—the person who solves the mystery—is a barrister, although it's noted in the story that he has some experience rounding up major criminals, having helped the police at least once.
- Crazy-Prepared: When the Big Bad tries to get away via a motorboat, Frank just happens to have a motorboat of his own ready. Justified in that he'd done some research during the previous day, and figured that would happen.
- Police Are Useless: Averted. the police are just at sea because there are no clues to go on, and Amberley has quite a few of them... not that he tells the police most of them.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: It doesn't help that Frank is something of a troll throughout the whole book, and not just to the girl.
- Smug Snake: Frank Amberley is this, making him something of a Designated Hero.
- Title Drop: In the second chapter, no less!