Two ladies were seated in the library at Milverly Park, the younger, whose cap and superabundance of crape proclaimed the widow, beside a table upon which reposed a Prayer Book; the elder, a Titian-haired beauty of some twenty-five simmers, in one of the deep window-embrasures that overlooked the park.
–Georgette Heyer - Bath Tangle - c.1955 - pg
Heyer’s romance novels show the reader that your story doesn’t have to be original to be entertaining, and that predictability isn’t always a bad thing. By the time you’ve finished reading the first chapter you’ll know exactly who Serena will end up with. It takes a little longer to work out the other pair, but that is merely because one party takes a while to show up.
But, as I’ve just said, that doesn’t matter. You don’t read these books looking for shocks and surprise endings. You read them for the style of writing. For the setting. And for the characters.
The main heroine of Bath Tangle is Serena, whose father, recently deceased, has left her fortune in the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham, much to Serena’s shock and displeasure. She was once engaged to Rotherham, but jilted him before the wedding could take place. Since then they’ve remained on somewhat friendly terms, although they do tend to wind each other up.
In the wake of her father’s death Serena, and her stepmother, and close friend, Fanny decide to move to Bath for a change of scenery. While there Serena meets a very old friend, as well as meeting a few interesting characters, and before long all are caught up in a web of romances and marriages and scheming parents.
As usual, it is the language that kept me entertained. Heyer has a wonderful turn of phrase, blending manners and humour together with ease.