As you can see, my pledge to leave Georgette Heyer’s work alone for the foreseeable future really stood the test of time. I promise I’m not usually so fickle, and in any case, I have been suitably chastened for my haste to return.
Beauvallet was one of Heyer’s novels which I was most excited to read. With its Spanish heroine, pirate rogue, and promise of swashbuckling adventure, I really thought this would prove itself one of the author’s best, but here I heave a sigh.
Whilst I admit that whilst Beauvallet delivers all that it promises to, and in excellently written prose, it is a less exciting book than its counterparts by far.
The protagonists, Doña Dominica de Rada y Sylva and the eponymous Sir Nicholas Beauvallet, are flat compared to characters in other Heyer novels, and their chemistry lacks both the slow subtlety of Venetia, and the rollicking fun of These Old Shades.
Since Beauvallet is one of Heyer’s earliest novels it is perhaps understandable that it is not among her best, but the greatest shame of it is that had the two protagonists been given even a little more depth this would have been an excellent novel. It boasts one of Heyer’s more original plots, and a good cast of secondary characters, including brief appearances from real-life historical figures, Sir Francis Drake and Queen Elizabeth I.
I was particularly fond of the cool, feline character of Dominica’s would-be mother-in-law, a particularly sinister villain whose nuanced character sat poorly next to the brash simplicity of the romantic hero.
“Plenty of food for enthusiasm in Madrid, madam,” said Sir Nicholas politely.
“Ah, but when you attain to my years, señor, you will realise that there is nothing in the world to feed enthusiasm.”
“I shall hope to preserve my illusions, madame.”
“It is far better to have none,” drawled the lady.
All in all, this is not Heyer’s worst novel (I reserve that title for Royal Escape!), but I do not recommend it unless you are short on options.
If you are interested in finding out more about my favourite Heyer novels, which feed my ongoing love for her, and for which Beauvallet can be forgiven, find reviews for Venetia and These Old Shades by clicking the links.