In fraught times such as these, I am so glad I still have one or two Georgette Heyers that I have not yet gotten around to reading. So even though this might not be prime Heyer, it was a delight nevertheless.
The ultimate Corinthian, Sir Richard Wyndham (he of the Windham Fall fame) is being pushed into marriage with a suitable bride, a veritable (as she is in no ways loath to admit) iceberg. Even her own brother, Cedric, advises Windham to make a run for it. But as he wanders home from his club through an unfamiliar neighborhood the night before doing so, in a brandy fueled state, a certain young creature is dangling out of a window, clinging on a sheet, and politely asks for a bit of help. It is Pen Creed, a young orphaned heiress, trying to disguise herself as a young lad, so she can escape an unwanted marriage to a certain fish-faced relative. Determined to find her way to the home up north of a childhood friend, she convinces Windham to accompany her on, of all absurd conveyances, a mail coach, and they are off. One can guess the outcome.
As Windham explains it to Cedric towards the end, “I must confess I was not much in favour of it, and I still consider the stage an abominable vehicle, but there is no denying we had a very adventurous journey. Really, to have gone post would have been sadly flat. We were over-turned in a ditch; we became – er – intimately acquainted with a thief; we found ourselves in possession of stolen goods; assisted in an elopement; and discovered a murder. I had not dreamt life could hold so much excitement.”
And I love when the cheap paperback cover illustrators have clearly not read the book. Pen seems to be completing her disguise as a boy by wearing a pink frilly dress, a Red Riding Hood red cape, and long blond curls. Indeed, who could penetrate such a mystery as that?