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A glorious Regency Romance. “Arabella” is pure fun from start to end, with a wonderfully sexy and attractive hero. It’s the most enjoyable Georgette Heyer I’ve read (so far).

The way their relationship develops as Mr Beaumaris gradually falls for Arabella is nicely plausible. There are enough scenes over a sufficient length of time for it to be believable. She’s an interesting mix of innocence and astuteness in how to handle flirtation. Had she been wide-eyed gauche all the way it might have been uncomfortable, but she’s a girl with spirit and wits, even if she’s very unworldly.

It’s also a relief that Mr Beaumaris guessed her secret from the start, and also realises why she made up the lie (not sure why he only figured out later that he was overheard) so the ending isn’t overly melodramatic or tortured. There are some lovely moments of comedy, I actually laughed a couple of times.

A bit more bite and spite from some of the minor characters might have been nice. Instead the main subplot is a young brother with gambling debts – you could see this coming a mile off, even if you didn’t know Heyer. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but I find myself wishing there could be at least one major character that does consistently win on the gaming tables and ends on top. So far, you know they’re all doomed to spiralling debt from the first deal of the cards.

Anyway, it’s trumps for Arabella and Robert Beaumaris, and rather like Pride & Prejudice, you kind of wish this one hadn’t ended and that you could forget it and read it all again from fresh.

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