Ah-hem. Moving on. The time has come to discuss one of her side-characters. He’s long been a favourite of mine. I have decided to share him with you.
It is my firm opinion that Lord Legerwood – found in Cotillion – is the best thing since sliced bread, second-hand book shops and a hundred bars of white chocolate.
book summary // to set the scene
Kitty Charing can inherit a fortune from her irascible great-uncle Matthew when she marries one of her cousins. Kitty is not wholly averse, if the right nephew proposes. Unfortunately, Kitty has set her heart on Jack Westruther, a confirmed rake.
To make him jealous and to see a little more of the world, Kitty convinces cousin Freddy Standen to pose as her fiance. In London with his family, she hopes to render the elusive Jack madly jealous.
New friends embroil her in their romantic troubles, sprinkling witty banter with Parisian phrases. Her French cousin, Camille, a professional gambler, has won the heart of Olivia, in turn the object of Jack’s dishonorable intentions. Doltish cousin Lord Dolphinton has fallen for a merchant’s daughter in conflict with his mother. Kitty herself wonders who is really right for her.
Freddy is not known for his initiative, nor for his intelligence. His father – Lord Legerwood – is aware of this. His father is awesome. What follows is a beautiful journey in a blossoming father-son relationship.
‘I shall have to hatch a scheme or other,’ [Freddy] decided.
‘Do you think you will?’ enquired Lord Legerwood, regarding him with a fascinated eye.
Slowly, over the course of the book (and with far too few scenes for my liking) Lord Legerwood’s attitude towards his son changes.
‘Offended you, sir?’ asked Freddy intelligently.
‘Not at all. How came such an idea as that into your head?’
‘Notice more than you think,’ said Freddy, with simple pride. ‘Never call me Frederick except when I’ve vexed you.’
‘Almost you encourage me to look forward to a brilliant career for you!’ said his lordship, impressed.
He realises that his son has:
‘… depths hitherto unsuspected by me, my dear boy.’
Freddy has a sister, Meg by name, who is quite flighty.
‘Oblige me, Freddy, by telling me if Jack Westruther is often to be found in Berkeley Square?’
Freddy’s brow darkened. ‘Too dashed often, for my taste. No need for you to trouble yourself though. Keeping my eye on Meg!’
Lord Legerwood, sustaining yet another shock, said faintly: ‘You are?’
‘To be sure I am. What’s more, got my own notion of what’s in the wind.’ He nodded portentously, but added: ‘Don’t mean to say anything about that: not my affair! Trouble is – beginning to think he’s too damned loose in the haft!’
‘I have thought that any time these past seven years,’ said Lord Legerwood.
‘You have?’ said Freddy, regarding him with affectionate pride. ‘Always say you’re the downiest man I know, sir! Up to every rig and row in town!’
‘Freddy, you unman me!’ said his father, profoundly moved.
I could harp on about Freddy or the Twist of Pure Wonderousness that can be found in this novel. But I won’t. I will restrain myself. Because this post is dedicated to Lord Legerwood. An epic father. The Coolest Dude to Ever Dude.
I wish to commission someone to:
create a time machine
beseech Georgette Heyer to write a book for Lord Legerwood. (Scenes of him getting pleasantly surprised by his children, his wife or even a multitude of wildlife would be brilliant.)
Thank you and good night.
// if the quotations haven’t convinced you that Lord Legerwood IS the Coolest Dude to Ever Dude, I would suggest checking the book out right here //
Instead of sorting out bookshelves, I’m reading what is on other bookshelves. Dashing and arrogant heroes? Abductions? Intrepid and brave, take-no-nonsense heroines? Fabulously funny side characters? Hilarious dialogue? It can only be a Heyer.
***This Post is Lengthy But Contains a Life-Changing Answer.***
by Georgette Heyer
The Marquis of Vidal (whose father is the ‘hero’ of These Old Shades) is forced to leave England due to nearly killing someone. His morals lie in the rakish direction and so he decides to take the young Sophia Challoner with him. To France. With no marital ties involved.
How outrageous! How immoral! But fear not – Mary Challoner is to the rescue. For the message that comes to her house is for her sister but is addressed to ‘Miss Challoner’.
“It’s a letter, miss, brought by a footman. For you,” added Betty, in congratulatory tones. Betty did not think it was fair that Miss Sophy should have all the beaux, for Miss Mary was a much nicer-spoken lady, if only the gentlemen had the sense to see it.
(Too true, Betty, too true.)
Mary is no fool and has been Suspicious of the Marquis’ intentions all along. She opens the letter. She sees her sister’s fate. She thinks. She acts. She takes her sister’s place!
“… it is plain he has no thought of marriage. I have a plan to show him she is not to be had so easily.”
– from a note to her Mamma
I like her already. She pops a mask on and with a mingling of fear and brave resolution heads off to show Vidal who’s boss. All is going according to plan – he suspects nothing as he bundles her into the carriage. And then they ride. And ride. She finds a pistol and bags that pistol. They go on. And then she sees that they’ve travelled to the sea.
He was going to take her sister to France? Of all the-! The time to act is nigh. At the inn by the sea, she takes off her mask.
The smile was wiped from his face.
She pretends that her deceit was a part of a jest with her sister.
“You need not think, my lord, that you can seduce Sophia so easily. She led you on finely, did she not? But when she found you’d no thought of marriage, she determined to teach you a lesson!”
It … doesn’t go down the way she expected. Vidal sort of shrugs his shoulders and says ‘fair ’nuff – I’ll have you instead.’
Proving that – at this point, at least – he is Without Conscience (and is basically a jerk) he forces her on board the boat. And then he turns his wicked gaze to her with a threatening ‘And now, Miss Challoner …”
However, Mary has other plans. Or rather, Mary’s stomach has other plans.
“I do not care whether you go or stay, but I desire to warn you that I am about to be extremely unwell.” She pressed her handkerchief to her mouth, and said through it in muffled accents: “Immediately.”
(Trust Heyer to flavour a scene of High Peril with a bout of seasickness.)
They arrive in France. Vidal has been indulging in the cups. They are alone. Poor Mary’s virtue is at stake. She is in a strange country with a dangerous man. She has no one to help her and only her courage to rely on. Well. Her courage … and a pistol!
“My lord,” she said desperately, “indeed I am not what you think me!”
He burst into one of his wild laughs, and she realised that in this mood she could make no impression on him.
He was advancing towards her. She brought her right hand from behind her, and levelled the pistol. “Stand where you are!” she said. “If you come one step nearer I shall shoot you down.”
He stopped short. “Where did you get that thing?” he demanded.
“Out of your coach,” she answered.
“Is it loaded?”
“I don’t know,” said Miss Challoner, incurably truthful.
He began to laugh again, and walked forward. “Shoot then,” he invited, “and we shall know. For I’m coming several steps nearer, my lady.”
Miss Challoner saw that he meant it, shut her eyes and resolutely pulled the trigger. There was a deafening report and the Marquis went staggering back. He recovered in a moment. “It was loaded,” he said coolly.
With a single shot of a pistol, Miss Challoner’s honour is saved and a Rake is set on his way to Redemption and True Love (and bit of time bed-bound. After all one cannot be shot without a few trifling annoyances.)
Later on, this book contains one of my all time favourite Heyer scenes: take a misunderstanding, throw in a few swords, toss in a Marquis, add a large dose of melodrama and a dash of absurdity and it’s deliciously exciting.
“Mr Comyn would have been killed,” Miss Challoner admitted, “but I stopped it. I thought it was time.”
The gentleman surveyed her with distinct admiration, not untouched by amusement. “Of course I should have known that you stopped it,” he said. “What means did you employ this time?”
“Rather rough-and-ready ones, sir. I tried to catch the blades in a coat.”
And now, my friends, to the question of ‘how do you reform a rake?’ I put a single, simple answer:
I’ve decided to join the Beautiful Books link up, hosted by Cait and Skye.
1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
Oh it was yonks ago. My youngest brother wanted a book written for him, about a man snatching bloody vengeance. I took the idea, chopped it into a trilogy, made the protagonist a pacifist and gave the first volume to my brother for his birthday. Believe it or not, I think he enjoyed it.
Since then, years have passed and now it is time to revisit and rewrite it.
2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
Because I’ll be revisiting and revamping the first book I ever truly finished. The characters – oh the characters! I love them to death and treat them rather horribly. Robert – the protagonist – is rather battered, bruised and broken during the course of the tale, poor thing.
3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
What’s it about? Like a house of falling cards, his life collapses about him. He seeks vengeance and finds an adventure – one which will change the course of his life.
There are conquering kingdoms, near hangings, spies, missing princes, friendships – wonderful, glorious friendships – sword fights, plots and the ever-present storm cloud of potential death and dastardly danger.
And the title?
Very well, I’ll admit it: it was entitled Knight of Destiny, and the story I’ll be rewriting was called Knight of Destiny: Beginnings. It had burgeoning prose and somewhat overtly dramatic moments.
Now, for reference I’ve somewhat tongue in cheek called it: The Many Trials of a Blacksmith: Part 1. (Because Robert becomes a blacksmith and he has many trials. I know, I’m a genius.)
5. Which characters do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!
Robert. Something awful happens to him in the beginning and his world is turned upside down. He has one thought: vengeance. As he grew up on a farm, he uses plenty of farming analogies which drives the people about him to distraction.
The Duke of Fordio – who is one of my favourite villains. I might change his name. It might be too poetic to be evil. Or perhaps it suits him. He’s evil but not for the sake of it, he has goals and woe betide any who get in his way – he will crush you with his booted foot and sip the finest wine whilst doing it.
6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
Robert wants vengeance. But soon he sees the bigger picture – why cut out a piece of a rotten apple when you can throw it away all together? Naturally, the government, the ruling nobility and the powerful army of his nation’s oppressors have a little to say about this.
7. Where is your novel set?
In the green land of Cade, in large cities and narrow alleyways, in dark inns and a blacksmith’s forge, in palaces and forests, in healer’s huts and along winding lanes.
8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
At the beginning? His brother. Their parents have long since passed and Ethan has practically raised him BUT THEN … [dun dun dunnn]
9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
He is older, more mature, more weathered. The protective bubble of his boyhood has burst and at the end of this tale, he’s learned that the world is a bigger, harsher place then he ever realised. Also, he has finally accepted that he is awful at using a bow and arrow. Awful I tell you!
10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
Hmmm … triumphantly wistful?
11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
If you set boundaries in your mind and tell yourself you can’t get passed them – you won’t. So be positive. Disgustingly, sickeningly positive. It’s the only way.
Don’t be frightened or in awe of the story you are going to tell. They are just words and it is just a story and you can do it. You are a writer and therefore you write.
Take it one step, one hundred words at a time. You can do it.
Click here for Part One. In which Ness takes a past tale and tells its story.
Now, whenever I pick up the threads of this story, I time-travel – two years forwards, two years backwards. Spoiled and less spoiled.
The story still isn’t finished, in fact, it isn’t all that long. But ‘They Call Me Marian’ gradually moves forwards – like a glacier. Or a snail. Or anything terribly slow, really – and I am enjoying it.
If you read it you can see my growth as a writer. You can see when I decided to utilize the magnificent things known as ‘Paragraphs’ (it really was quite the discovery for me).
You can see that my grammar has somewhat improved. (The key word being somewhat).
True, the story has changed with the character. It even had a story spiral off from it (in this tale the sheriff was the hero, Robin the rogue and Sir Guy of Gisbourn had a rough exterior but a heart of gruff softness).
Whilst I continue to write and edit various projects, I sometimes drift back to a word document which has waited patiently for my input; for new words; for the story to continue in the telling.
Who knows – one day it may be published. One very, very distant day.
But for now, Maid Marian has just been shockingly kidnapped and two years ago, Allan a’Dale is singing a singularly uncomplimentary song with the subject matter of a certain maid.
Favourite Quotes (in no chronological order):
“A most insincere apology with less meaning than a traitor’s promise.” He smiled, charm dripping off him along with the raindrops.
“It, well,” I would rather be locked in a field with an angry bull. Ten angry balls. With a hundred jousting knights galloping towards me, their lances lowered. “I needed to …”
“Marian,” he said, savouring it, “a most beautiful name.” He looked me up and down – took in my faded dress, patched apron, and wet hair plastered to my crown. “It is too bad that the bearer of the name does not live up to its promise.”
Lines which I (perhaps) have a facial seizure when reading:
I related to her my whole history in my childish way inserting unconscious pathos as my lonely, motherless heart cried out for love.
… Sir Guy’s smooth voice replied, “Ah, well, I am gratified that I have finally caught this barbaric half breed Saxon fox…”
Sir Tomas was, according to Lady Anne, handsome and good looking, but in my private opinion his spirit – ugh! It was small, mean and cold AND he has a huge wart on his nose.