Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Corinthian

I am not quite sober you know. In fact, I am drunk, but I cannot help feeling this is all a trifle, shall we say, irregular?


We were overturned in a ditch, we became--er--intimately acquainted with a thief; we found ourselves in possession of stolen goods; assisted in an elopement; and discovered a murder. I had not dreamt life could hold such excitement.
~The Corinthian (1940) by Georgette Heyer

Sir Richard Wyndham is a Corinthian--a wealthy, handsome dandy of twenty-nine. He has the world at his feet and his relatives nagging him to death to get married and carry on the family name. He prepares himself to give in to family pressure with a night of drunken gambling when Fate takes a hand. He decides to walk off his drinks and wanders into a quiet neighborhood where he spies a youth climbing out of a second story window on a much-too-short rope of bedsheets. 

He quickly realizes that the youth is a young woman when she literally falls into his arms. Penelope "Pen" Creed, a young lady just turned seventeen, is escaping from her aunt's house where she is being pressured to marry her "fish-faced" cousin, Fred. 

"He has a wet mouth," said Miss Creed despairingly.

In his still slightly drunken state, Sir Richard decides that it would be a grand idea to help Pen run away to her country estate (I forgot to mention that Pen is an heiress who is expected to marry her cousin and share her fortune with her less-fortunate relatives...) where she hopes to be reunited with a childhood friend with whom she shared a "blood oath" to marry once they were old enough. Besides, if he helps her run away, he can run away himself. As Miss Creed says when she tries to dissuade him from accompanying her:

"Do please consider....If you went with me, no one would know what had become of you."
"No one would know what had become of me," repeated Sir Richard slowly....

That seems to him to be a lovely idea.

The two marriage-truants find themselves involved in the most "exciting adventures" (to quote Pen). Pen continues her cross-dressing escapades with Sir Richard cast as everything from her tutor to uncle to trustee. They run up against thieves, find and lose a fabulous diamond necklace, discover a murder, and save people from their own romantic follies...all while slowly coming to realize the growing affections between them. But will Fate take another turn and keep them apart? Not if Sir Richard has anything to say about it.

This was a delightful little trip into a "guilty pleasure" book for one of my challenges. Not that I really feel all that guilty about reading a Regency romance--but, then, I don't really feel guilty about anything I choose to read. Georgette Heyer provides light-hearted romance and witty repartee in all of her romance novels. The Corinthian gives us two charming protagonists in our run-aways and adds some very entertaining supporting characters along the way. Cedric Brandon is marvelous. He's unrepentant about his scapegrace ways and very forthright about them with Sir Richard. He very truthfully tells Richard that he better run from a marriage with Melissa (Cedric's sister) or the whole family will be sponging off him. And he sees straight through Pen's schoolboy disguise. 

There could have been a bit more lead-in to the romance between Richard and Pen. I mean, anyone who has read Regency romance novels before knew what was coming--but there was very little real indication of what was happening between the two. A better build-up would have made for a much more satisfying  story. But overall--very enjoyable.  ★★ and 1/2.

PopSugar: Favorite prompt from a previous PopSugar Challenge--Item of clothing/accessory on cover (2019)
Pick Your Poison: How Old? (written before you were born)

First Line: The company, ushered by a disapproving butler into the yellow saloon of Sir Richard Wyndham's house in St. James's Square, comprised two ladies and one reluctant gentleman.

As a boy you would have been in no way remarkable; as a female, believe me, you are unique. (Sir Richard Wyndham; p. 70)

I would not have come all this way with you if you had not had such smiling eyes. Isn't it odd how one knows if one can trust a person, even if he's drunk? (Pen Creed; p. 90)

If you are not sorry to be here, do not let us give it another thought! It is so very fatiguing to go on being sorry about things one has done. (Pen Creed; p. 136)

Miss Creed reflected that in a more perfect world no servant would intrude upon his legitimate business at unreasonable moments. (p. 213)

PC: Well I didn't drop out precisely. I climbed out because I was escaping my relations.
CB: I've often wanted to escape from mine, but I never thought of climbing out of a window.
(Pen Creed, Cedric Brandon; p. 222)

Haven't I been trying to get you to go away this past half-hour? Never met such a thick-skinned fellow in my life! (Cedric Brandon; p. 250)

Your scruples were very fine, I make no doubt, but how should a chit of Pen's age understand what you were about? She would not care a fig for your precious honour, and I dare say--indeed, I am sure!--that she thought your forbearance mere indifference. (Lady Luttrell; pp. 253-4)

Last Line: "Let them see!" said the Corinthian

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