Georgette Heyer was one of the most successful romance novelists of the 20th century. Her books were famous for her intelligent comedy, the genuine sweetness of her romances and her meticulous research
on the Regency period
. She also wrote a few detective novels here and there, but these aren't nearly as well-known, which is a shame.
Heyer's heroes and heroines (occasionally dubbed Heyeroes and Heyeroines
) tended to come in two types each:
- 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.
Heyer was not above mixing and matching types, as well as subverting the expectations of her readers. In Sylvester
, for example, the eponymous hero appears to be a Hero #1, whereas he's actually a Hero #2 (he merely has an unfortunate pair of eyebrows).
Heyer used a lot of tropes in various ways, so listing them by novel seems the best way to go.
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".
- 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
Behold, Here's Poison
The Black Moth
A Civil Contract
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
The Great Roxhythe
An Infamous Army
Lady of Quality
My Lord John
No Wind of Blame
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
The Quiet Gentleman
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.
- 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, non-sexual for once. Carlyon thinks Elinor has answered his advertisement for a woman to marry his cousin, while she thinks he's discussing a governess position.
- 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
The Talisman Ring
These Old Shades
The Unfinished Clue
The Unknown Ajax
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!