Georgette Heyer (16 August 1902 – 4 July 1974) was one of the most successful English 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 - which in turn leads to An Infamous Army rather incongruously being on the recommended reading list at, of all things, Sandhurst, the UK equivalent of West Point, for its superb description of the Battle of Waterloo. 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:
- 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.
Works with their own pages:<!—index—>
- April Lady
- Bath Tangle
- The Black Moth
- Black Sheep (1966)
- A Civil Contract
- The Convenient Marriage
- The Corinthian
- Devil's Cub
- Friday's Child
- The Grand Sophy
- Powder and Patch
- The Quiet Gentleman
- The Reluctant Widow
- Sprig Muslin
- These Old Shades
- The Unknown Ajax
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.
- Detective Mole: The local police constable who "found" the body, PC Glass, is the murderer, and the titular weapon was his police truncheon.
- Fair-Play Whodunnit: Might be intentional... but if not, she was probably having an off day.
- The Fundamentalist: Constable Glass.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: 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.
- 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.
- Good Samaritan: Arabella.
- Happily Married: Arabella's parents.
- Love Epiphany: Mr Beaumaris has a very strong one, when he sees Arabella defend a poor urchin. It impacts him so strongly, he has to grip the back of a chair.
- Rich Boredom: Robert Beaumaris. He's especially bored with Gold Diggers.
Behold, Here's Poison
- Damsel in Distress: 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.
- Arranged Marriage: Minerva tries to press-gang Kate into one of these.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: ...or insanity-detecting dog, whatever.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Kate for Torquil.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Kate's relationship with Philip.
- Yandere: Torquil.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Ingenue: Phoebe.
- Masochism Tango: It's Played for Laughs, but Deborah and Max have this in spades. She kidnaps him, for heaven's sake.
- The Matchmaker: Deb for Lord Mablethorpe and Phoebe.
- Spirited Young Lady: Deborah.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: both Max and Deborah.
- The Vamp: Max believes Deborah to be this.
- Betty and Veronica: Subverted: everyone thinks Gilly is in love with Belinda, but he isn't.
- Too Dumb to Live: Belinda, as lampshaded by many, many characters.
- Twice Shy
- Cool Big Sis: Frederica.
- Face Palm:"You might well!' said Alverstoke, who had sunk his brow on his hand.
- The Ingenue: Charis.
- Love at First Sight: Charis and her suitor.
- Mouthy Kid: Felix.
- Oblivious to Love: Frederica about Alverstoke.
- 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.
The Great Roxhythe
An Infamous Army
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Subverted: Charles has his arm amputated.
Lady of Quality
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Both ways!
- The Chessmaster: Lord Barham
- Crossdresser: Again, both ways.
- Sweet Polly Oliver
My Lord John
- Died During Production: Heyer died while writing it.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: John of Lancaster.
- Uncle Pennybags: Sir Waldo Hawkridge
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 Bastard 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 Un-Favourite: 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.
- Agent Peacock: Worth. He is one of the dandy set, closely befriended with dandy-in-chief Beau Brummel, and Judith is convinced that all dandies are horrid sissies, only to be shocked to find them actually kind of classy, very well dressed and in the case of Worth surprisingly badass. Worth is a skilled boxer, who can knock another man out cold when it becomes necessary.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Judith really does not get on with Worth for about half the book.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The climax of the plot reveals that the Taverner siblings' cousin, Bernard, has been trying to dispose of Peregrine so Judith could inherit the whole of the family fortune, and then marry Judith (to his credit, he does appear to have genuinely fallen in love with her). Judith despairingly says that if he needed money, all he had to do was ask them for it. However, Worth points out that Bernard likely wouldn't want to be beholden to his cousins, and in any case his own debts were far too great to be paid by an indulgent relation and Worth himself would have forbidden it.
- 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: Worth first meets the siblings when their curricles collide. The next day he happens upon Judith in distress by the side of the road and insists on escorting her back to town.
- Resentful Guardian: It's a downplayed example since he's only responsible for them for a year or two, but Worth does make it clear he finds being Judith and Peregrine's guardian very annoying at times. Partly because they sometimes behave foolishly and he dislikes his name being connected to thier antics, mostly because he's in love with Judith but can't propose to her until she comes of age and is no longer his ward.
- Reverse Psychology: How Worth gets Judith to take the house he wants in Brighton.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Charles Stuart is an unashamed womanizer but he will not take advantage of an honest young woman who is helping him at the risk of her life.
- King Incognito: Charles II. He is in fact a little too comfortable with incognito to suit some of his stiffer supporters.
- Nice to the Waiter: Charles is tired, hurt and scared but he makes an effort to be courteous and friendly to the common folk helping him.
Simon the Coldheart
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Averted: the language used is thick with genuine Middle English, so much so that a glossary was included.
The Spanish Bride
The Talisman Ring
- Arranged Marriage: Tristram and Eustacie.
- Clear My Name: Ludovic.
- Only Sane Man: Poor Tristram. None of the other characters like his practical and effective plans, because the plans aren't adventurous enough.
- Altar the Speed: John and Nell are...unexpectedly...married by Sir Peter's bedside because he's decided he wants it done before he dies.
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.
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!