In which we serialize Society Patroness Rachel Hyland’s first book in her Reading Heyer series, Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. Called “delicious” by Heyer expert Jennifer Kloester, it is a reading guide, critique and loving homage all in one. But mostly, it’s just a lot of fun. We hope you enjoy. Check back every Sunday for another installment, or buy the book here.
CHAPTER XVIII: ENTER CAPTAIN ROBERT LOVELACE
Ooooh. Doesn’t he sound like a card? And indeed he is: a former flame of Lavinia’s, all roguish twinkle and insouciance, who reencounters the beauty as she holds court at the fashionable Ranelagh Gardens one fine evening. Dick doesn’t like it much, of course, but then who are we to concern ourselves with the petty jealousies and marital woes of sadsack Dick? After all, it was he who a) cheated at cards that one time, damn it all and b) allowed himself to be persuaded into bringing Lavinia back to London again, so he really has no cause for complaint.
Of course, Dick is not the only unwelcome gentleman in this here chapter. At this point in the narrative we already dislike Colonel Lord Robert Belmanoir, though it’s hard to really say why. In fact, we’ve hardly seen him in person at all, but reflected in other people’s opinions – from Dick’s to Jack’s to even his own siblings – this outwardly dapper soldier appears to be perfectly abhorrent, and therefore we can’t help but be as displeased at his appearance as his unloving sister Lavinia. (Remember, from Chapter V? “I hate Robert! … I wish he might die.”) But as it is he who delivers Captain Lovelace unto us, and Captain Lovelace seems likely to be quite the important plot point as time goes on – oh, yes, you know where this is going, don’t you? – we must suppose Robert to have at last found his purpose in the story.
So, thanks Robert! Thanks for bringing us this “mad, reckless rake-hell.” As Lavinia said: “How delightful!” Good on you for being the one to reunite “Lavvy” with “Harry” and have him languishing at her dainty feet, quickly becoming a big favorite with her – if not, obviously, with her husband.
Anything that annoys Dick, after all, is pretty fun for us. Damn cheater…
I’m just going to leave this here:
One of her black pages proffered a small monkey with much bowing and grinning, and the murmur of: “Massa’s present.”
Lady Lavinia flew to embrace her Dicky. How did he guess that she had for so long yearned for a monkey? Surely she had but once or twice mentioned it? Oh, he was the very best of husbands! She danced off to her apartments in a state of ecstasy.
Historical fiction isn’t all joy.
New chapters of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth will be posted here at Heyer Society each Sunday. Or buy it here.