I'm happy to finally turn the calendar over from February to March. February wasn't a very good reading month for me, and it was cold and snowy, but just this past week I heard something that I had not heard for months. Early in the mornings when I'm on my way to work it's dark (and cold!) and very quiet, but I heard a very pleasant sound which makes me think that spring really is only a few weeks away. Birds chirping! I know it sounds silly, but it's such a lovely sound when you've become used to the cold silence of winter. After a while winter tends to wear me down and the books I've been reading lately haven't helped my spirits much either. Too many sad endings and bleak stories. This is not to say I've not enjoyed the books I've been reading, but I think I need something a little frivolous and entertaining for a change. One name came to mind right away--Georgette Heyer, whose novels are dependably cheerful and escapist.
I have a small stack of her Regency novels to choose from and decided on The Reluctant Widow, which is one of her more adventurous stories. The plot involves a case of mistaken identity. Spinster (at age 26) Elinor Rochdale accepts the post of governess and travels to a small town outside London where she is met by a carriage to take her to the family's estate where she'll be working. Unfortunately the carriage is meant for another young woman who agreed to another situation entirely, and Elinor ends up at the home of a "dissipated and ruined" young man, who isn't looking for a governess. I'm promised a story with cloak and daggers as well as international intrigue, which sounds perfect right now.
The story also promises to be comic as well. Elinor has not yet met said dissipated youth, but she has been talking at cross purposes with the youth's guardian. My teaser is a description of the Cheviot estate and Lord Carlyon, the youth's cousin.
"She found herself in a library. It was quite as untidy as the hall, but a quantity of candles in tarnished wall-brackets threw a warm light over it, and a log fire burned in the grate at the far end of it. Before this fire, one hand resting on the mantelpiece, one booted foot on the fender, stood a gentleman in buckskin breeches and a mulberry coat, staring down at the leaping flames. As the door closed behind Miss Rochdale, he looked up, and across at her, in a measuring way that might have disconcerted one less accustomed to being weighed up like so much merchandize offered for sale."
"He might have been any age between thirty and forty. Miss Rochdale realised that he must be her employer's husband, and was a good deal cheered to discover that besides being a very gentlemanlike-looking man, with a well-favored countenance and a distinct air of breeding, he was dressed with a neatness and a propriety at welcome variance with his surroundings. He had, in fact, all the appearance of a man of fashion."
Just the sort of pick-me-up that I need at the moment.