This month in the Romance Academy, PHS columnist Melissa Blue is looking at a hero in a classic romance who'd be a hard sell for modern-day readers...
Let’s get back in our time machine. Five years ago, Georgette Heyer was the new (but old) hot romance author. Her publisher had revamped her titles to create buzz. So all I heard about was her books. In particular, The Grand Sophy. Oh, the wonderful things I heard about this book.
Mostly it was that the heroine was my reader crack. She was vivacious. She was a Grade A, in-a-class-of-her-own, boss level meddler. In short, a fixer who didn’t suffer from a martyr complex. That made her a control freak and that always makes the implied promise, she would lose control.
Now I was on the fence because this particular title was published in the 1950s. To say social mores were different would be an understatement. Thoughts and feelings like that easily bleed onto the page no matter how hard the writer tries to unearth them. Social norms are the air we breathe.
So that warning blaring in my mind, I gave The Grand Sophy a read.
Here’s a short recap of the plot and overall story that I pulled from my review back in 2012:
“Girl's father sends girl to relatives to stay for an undetermined amount of time while he goes on an adventure to Brazil. Hilarity ensues because even though the father describes Sophy as sweet she is hell on wheels and a meddler of epic proportions. Girl drives hero crazy with her shenanigans and they fall in love.”
This tells you everything you need to know and nothing at all. For the simple fact the first time I read this book, I had no idea who the hero was. During all that praising I had heard of this book there were a few facts that either flew past me or wasn’t mentioned.
Let me paint the picture.
Remember, I’m reading this book in 2012. It was published in 1950. Yet it’s the setting of the novel that makes it actually historical.
Yet the heroine feels very modern. She’s no different than all the heroines I love in historicals now. She has a good sense of herself. She is a bit take no prisoners but if taking prisoners fixes a problem, she totally would. Everyone eventually falls in love with her as people usually do with a heroine who is fun, funny and a meddler.
Everyone except for one cousin. He’s the head of the family. He’s stoic, staid and Sophy listens to him not. Drives him nuts, which was so fun to watch.
So I’m reading and waiting for the hero to arrive, because she so deserves a hero. I’m beyond amused at her shenanigans. I’m loving the fact that even though her cousin is all I ain’t got time for your meddling, stop it, he’s slowly but surely starting to care for his cousin.
I’m reading along and getting so damn frustrated because WHERE IS THE HERO? I was promised a romance, dammit.
Then I hit a scene where it hits me. My memory is fuzzy but I believe Sophy, being the outlandish woman she is, goads the hero into shooting a playing card. In a house.
The staid, stoic, stick in the mud is completely unraveled.
My jaw hit the floor because HE—Charles—HER COUSIN, IS THE HERO.
Do I need to explain why he so couldn’t be the hero of a historical in 2017?
(I’m not even going to touch on the anti-Semitic leanings that I stepped into like dog poo near the back end of the novel.)
But, yes, this is a romance novel where the hero is her cousin.
* slow blink *
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Melissa's latest release, Bluest of Blue, is out now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.