When I was first offered the opportunity to read and review some of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, I had a hard time selecting between The Reluctant Widow and False Colours. I chose The Reluctant Widow, but bought False Colours with my first Christmas gift card. Now, I am thankful that I chose The Reluctant Widow because had False Colours been my first of Georgette Heyer’s novels, I probably would not have picked up another one. I’m glad that I did not miss out on The Reluctant Widow.
This novel has an interesting premise. Evelyn and Kit Fancot are identical twin brothers. Evelyn, as the eldest son, has taken over his father’s title – and his mother’s enormous debt. Shortly after learning of his mother, the Lady Denville”s financial crisis, Evelyn asks for Cressy Staavely’s hand in marriage so that his uncle will release the money due to him. A dinner is planned so that Evelyn, a Regency playboy, can meet and win over Cressy’s aunt, the Dowager Lady Stavely. Kit returns home from London to find his beloved mother in a stew because Evelyn’s gone missing on the eve of the dinner. Because he can’t bare to have his mother so upset, Kit agrees to impersonate his twin for that one night. Of course, when Evelyn neither returns nor sends word of what’s keeping him from London, Kit is forced to assume his brother’s identity indefinitely. Things become even more complicated when Kit finds himself in love with Cressy. Will stepping in to help his brother and his mother take care of a messy situation cost him his own heart and happiness?
It did not take me long to wonder when this novel would end. Unlike The Reluctant Widow, there was very little action in this story. It was mainly told in conversations between Kit and Lady Denville. As a result, it wasn’t very compelling. Any suspenseful situation was already resolved to the degree that mother and son could laugh about it good naturedly or never actually made it into the novel at all. There were so many missed opportunities for drama, such as the scene when Kit is found out. Instead, uniteresting anti-dramas, such as a confrontation with the mother of one of Evelyn’s flings, were added instead.
Two things really bothered me the most in this novel: 1) there was so much Regency lingo/slang that it was hard to read. It seemed as though Kit, Lady Denville, and Evelyn couldn’t go a single second without using some sort of phrase specific, I assume, to that time period. Heyer didn’t write this way in The Reluctant Widow at all. 2) Lady Denville may have been coddled all of her life and almost unnaturally so by her sons, but I found her inability to economize frustrating. I understand that people have compulsions – and hers may very well have been to shop – but her real problem was living among a sorry group of co-dependent men. I would have rather seen her take responsibility for herself and her actions than be rescued yet again – even if that meant Kit and Evelyn not succeeding. As a result, I cannot recommend False Colours. It is never a good thing when you’re rooting against your main characters. I’m hoping that my other Heyer Regency romances are better. One more like this and I don’t think I’ll try another.
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