Hero: Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon(40)
Heroine: Léonie de Saint-Vire(19)
Supporting cast Hugh, Rupert, Fanny
'It is so entertaining, and so novel, to be a gilded saint in the eyes of unfledged innocence. I shall keep the boy for just so long as he continues to amuse me....'
Society believes the worst of Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon who is clearly proud of his sobriquet,'Satanas'. It is he who buys Léon body and soul from and scoundrel in a paris Backstreet. The red-headed urchin has strangely familiar looks, and should play a fine part in Justin's long-overdue schemes to avenge himself on the Comte de St Vire - until, that is Léon becomes the ravishing beauty Léonie...
My thoughts: Between this and Frederica I have a hard time picking a favourite. I think by far Justin Alastair, Duke of Avon has the best lines of any character ever written by Heyer. He is my favourite character too....when that isn't Vernon Dauntry, Marquis of Alverstoke that is. I will try not to include everything he said in the 'Favourite lines' section. Léonie is great, as is the Duke's young brother, Rupert. Hugh is a great laugh as well. Everything about this book bears top points --The main characters (especially Avon), the supporting cast, the well written settings and most excellent plot. The scene at Madame de Deffands Soirée.
Love the scene of the Duke showing up in France after chasing down the kidnapping plot beginning with this exchange---
"If you come one step into the room I will shoot you dead." said Léonie clearly.
"And I thought you would be pleased to see me, ma fille," said a soft drawling vioce. "I beg you will not shoot me dead."
He's always so calm and assured and so amusing. Also fond of the fencing scene where she breaks through his guard and scores a hit. "Touche," saaid Avon. "That was rather better, infant."
Favorite Lines: These spoil the book if you have not read it yet.
"The wheat is picked out in blue."He held the sheet at arms length."It seems strange, but no doubt Fanny is right. I have not been in England for such a time--Ah I beg her pardon! You will be relieved to hear, my dear Hugh, that the wheat in England still grows as ever it did. The wheels are picked out in Blue."
"John is in the country because the town air does not suit him. Now, is
John her lap-og or her parrot?"
"Her son,"said Davenant.
"--She wishes she could visit me as I suggested some time ago--How rash
of me!--but it is quite impossible as she could not leave her darling Edward
alone and she fears he would not accompany her to my hovel. Hovel. Not very
polite of Fanny. I must remember to speak to her about it."
"Hotel," suggested Hugh.
"Once more you are right. Hotel it is."
"Wonderful", said the Duke. "We progress!"
"He is mad, of course. I beg you will calm yourself, my Léon."
"My dear Hugh! Bethink you, you are but thirty-five - quite a child still. It would be most improper. Now, I - I am over forty. A veteran, and therefore harmless."
"You are refreshing," he said." Fanny will try and make you like the rest of her sex. I believe I do not want that."
"It incites you to wrath? If you assault me I shall summon assistance." But he shut the fan, and held it so, between his hands. "I am all attention, beloved."
"Remind me one day to teach you how to achieve a sneer, Hugh. Yours is too pronounced, and thus but a grimace. It should be but a faint curl of the lips. So. But to resume. You will at least be surprised to hear that I had not thought of Léonie in the light of a beautiful girl."
"Yes, oh yes! And will you teach me to fight with a sword, Monseigneur?"
"Ibeg you will do no such thing, ma fille.Ifyou must indulge in forceful expressions confine them to'pon rep, ormerely Lud!"
"Monseigneur,I have killed you! You are dead! You are dead!"
"Did Lady Fanny and the others know you were going to kill the pig-person,
"Infant, pray do not gothrough the world, saying that I killed him."
"Child---" his clasp on her hand tightened. "I want you to forget me. I am not a proper man for you. You will be wiser not to think of me."
"I am not angry," he answered"Even were it possible. LéonieI
would not take you as my mistress. That is not how I think of you."
"You do not love me?"She said, like a child.
"Too--well to marry you," he said and released her hands." It is not possible."
"Monseigneur, I would much rather be the last woman then the first."
"Little one," he said very low "since you will stoop to wed me, I pledge you my word that you shall not in the future have cause to regret it."
I love most any scene between Hugh and Justin this is a particular favourite.
Davenaut took Avon's hand and wrung it.
"Justin, I cannot find words to tell you how glad I am!"
"My dear Hugh this is most unexpected," drawled his Grace. "I made sure of a despondenthead-shake."
"No,no, my friend not this time. You have learned to love another better then yourself at last,and I believe you will make you Duchess a good husband."
"It is my intention," said his Grace, and struggled out of his coat. There was a tinge of colour in his cheeks, but he put up his glass in the old manner and surveyed the room."My house seems remarkably full of people," he observed. "Is it possible we were expected."
Rupert nudged Davenaut.
"Look at Justin's face" he whispered. "Did you ever see aught to equal the pride of him?"
His Grace was at her side, and lifted her down from the chair.
"My enfant," he said , "duchesses do not dance on chairs, nor do they call their brothers 'imbécile'."
Léonie's twinkled irrepressibly.
"I do," she said firmly.
"Ah, bah!" said the duchess of Avon.