Heyer for Beginners — Faro’s Daughter (1941)

Is it just me, or is this Heyer book… pretty sexy?

Not that there’s any of sex in it, of course! As far as I am aware, all the bodice ripping and the open bedroom doors happened way after Heyer established the genre as a publishing success. But Deborah and Max have such chemistry, such fiery, fighty flirtation that I really feel like they should be tearing off each others’ clothes here.

It’s pretty hot.

What’s really interesting about this one is that Deborah Grantham, our redoubtable heroine, is a working girl, in that she has employment in her aunt’s gaming rooms — like, a private casino. That is a new one on me, Heyer-wise, and even though it means that Deb is not entirely respectable, she isn’t completely ostracized because of it, or have people think she can never possibly marry a man of rank and/or fortune.

She’s not ruined. And I really would have thought that she’d be ruined. I guess I don’t understand Heyer’s version of history as well as I thought I did.

Max Ravenscar, Deb’s nemesis, however, does think she’s ruined, or at least completely ineligible to marry his cousin, and so goes about luring her away from the young buck in just about the stupidest manner possible, which leads to Deb actively detesting him for most of the book, and determined to take her revenge for his insults.

But reading between the lines, and it is very subtle, I think that Deb and Max actually fall for each other at first sight — also not a usual trope of Heyer’s, thus far — and it is through a) his disappointment that the one woman he has ever really connected with should be the adventuress he was there to buy off and b) her hurt that he, whom she liked so well, could think her so unprincipled, that they end up arguing and one-upping and threatening and straight-up kidnapping each other for the rest of the book.

And I get it. I get it, and I am very much here for it.

This really is just a… a sexy book. I didn’t expect it from Heyer.

I can only hope there are more like this to come.

Maura Tan was born in Zanzibar, grew up in Morocco and lives in Singapore, where she is currently studying for her third degree in Contemporary Literature—when not writing reviews for Romantic Intentions Quarterly and eating her bodyweight in durian.