Returning to his family seat from Waterloo, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, could have expected more enthusiasm for his homecoming. His quiet cousin, stepmother, and young half-brother seem openly disappointed that he survived the wars.
And when he begins to fall for his half-brother's sweetheart, his chilly reception goes from unfriendly to positively murderous. (from Goodreads)
The Quiet Gentleman is a FANTASTIC book, you guys. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
First up, right, is the unusual hero and heroine. Gervase, the hero, is quiet and unassuming and everyone totally thinks he’s a doormat. He’s the new head of the family, but since everyone else wanted Martin to be the Earl, they all ignore Gervase and his fantastic features. Much like Hugo’s family in The Unknown Ajax, everyone forgets that he was in the battle of Waterloo and kicked major butt. All they see is the top layer of accommodating unloved half-brother, and they ignore the fact that he’s a decorated army dude who is actually competent.
However! Gervase is not actually all that accommodating. He’s not exactly a troll, but he’s sort of on the edge of being one. A typical conversation with Gervase will be something like the following:
Gervase: Take away this fugly vase please I don’t want it in my dining room
Gervase’s step-mother: Leave it there I am the boss and not you
Gervase: Oh, you like that vase? I’ll have it put in your sitting room then
Gervase’s step-mother: Leave it where it is
Fugly vase: *shows up in step-mother’s sitting room*
Speaking of Gervase’s family (again), they’re all terrible people. His step-mother is a horror, his half-brother’s a toddler in an adult body, and his father (deceased) held a grudge for 30 years and blamed a baby for his problems. He’s why everyone hates Gervase and/or doesn’t understand him. Everyone except Gervase’s cousin, who is very nice and is his friend and omg, View Spoiler »the ending about broke my heart « Hide Spoiler. (Gervase also has a half-sister, but she barely shows up.) Ugh, that family.
Luckily Gervase a) doesn’t scare easily, b) actually seems fond of his family (including his terrible half-brother!), and c) knows how to handle them all so he gets what he wants with a minimum of fuss. Success!
The second thing I loved was Drusilla, the heroine! She’s probably the most unusual heroine I’ve found in a Georgette Heyer book so far; she’s not conventionally beautiful (her eyes are her best feature), she’s a little overweight, short, and she has a lot more common sense than most everyone else in the book. She was so refreshing and amazing and YAY! Drusilla!
Her parents are, unsurprisingly, also unusual: her father’s one of those “back to nature” kind of dudes and her mother is a famous author. They show up at the end and have a very funny scene with Gervase’s step-mother– I just loved Drusilla’s whole family.
Third amazing thing about The Quiet Gentleman: it’s a mix of mystery, Gothic romance, and straight-up romance. The mystery is not all that twisty and I figured out the almost-murderer early on, but there’s so many red herrings I second guessed myself all the way ’til the end. The Gothic elements gave the story a fantastic atmosphere, though considering how GH played with those elements, that atmosphere was a mix of funny/spooky. For example: Drusilla is walking through the woods at dusk and hears strange noises. Does she
a) think it’s a villain out to attack her?
b) think it’s a wolf about to attack her?
c) think it’s a rabbit jumping through some bushes?
The answer is c, because of course it’s only a rabbit. lol.
Not SO amazing, but still pretty sweet: the beta couple starring Gervase’s military friend and Martin’s not-really-his-girlfriend. They’re so cute together, omg.
I didn’t like how the not-really-his-girlfriend was basically slut-shamed when all she did was be friendly to Martin and he refused to obey the conventions of the time, cornered her in a lonely spot, and then tried to rape her. He attacked her! No “boys will be boys and you can’t show them ankles least they go insane with lust” nonsense, please. I mean, it does fit with the times, both the story’s setting and when the book was written (1950s), but it wasn’t any fun to read about. UGH.
That low point aside, I very much enjoyed The Quiet Gentleman and I’ll definitely be reading it again.
Read: January 31-February 3, 2014