Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer

Powder and Patch by Georgette HeyerPowder and Patch by Georgette Heyer
Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca (1923), eBook, 208pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance


Cleone Charteris's exquisite charms have made her the belle of the English countryside. But Cleone yearns for a husband who is refined, aristocratic and who is as skilled with his wit as he is with his dueling pistols.... Everything Philip Jettan is not. As much as she is attracted to the handsome squire, Cleone finds herself dismissing Philip and his rough mannerisms.

With his father's encouragement, Philip departs for the courts of Paris, determined to acquire the social graces and the airs of the genteel -- and convince Cleone that he is the man most suited for her hand. But his transformation may cost him everything, including Cleone.... (from Goodreads)

I want to say that this is one of Georgette Heyer’s more unusual romances, if only because the emphasis is so much more on the fashion of the time period than anything else. Usually her characters have problems with politeness or arrogance or something to do with social standing, something negative they have to overcome in order to get their happy ending. In Powder and Patch, the hero has a problem with his outfits. (And, okay, with how he is decidedly NOT a playa.) It’s very What Not to Wear: Georgian Edition.

Phillip is kind of a reverse of the Modern Woman in a Foreign Time concept; he’s very modern-style manly. He hates fussy clothes, speaks plainly, and doesn’t like pretending to be something he’s not. Since the entire fashion of the time is ABOUT fussy-looking men mincing around wooing women, he doesn’t fit in very well and his girlfriend doesn’t want to marry someone who’s basically a social outcast.

Understandable, to a degree! Social conventions being what they were back then, I get why Cleone doesn’t want a before-his-time outdoorsy man since they won’t come into style for about 00 years or so after the time this book is set in. However! If you really loved someone, shouldn’t you love them for who they are? That little niggle is why I couldn’t get totally behind Cleone, especially since she promptly changes her mind again once Philip does what she wants. Ugh.

Anyway, Philip pulls a Sandy and transforms himself into the ultimate Georgian lady killer, and it’s both terrible and wonderful. He actually likes some of the changes he’s made to himself, so that’s good, and everyone around him thinks he’s hot stuff, which is fantastic, but his girlfriend…well, there’s some more bumpy roads they have to go down together.

I particularly liked how GH wasn’t afraid to embrace the kooky things that historical people put themselves through in the name of high society. And I especially liked how she still managed to mix in enough modern sensibilities that the story wasn’t entirely fraught with ridiculousness. She was VERY good at blending the past with the present, so all her character read true to history but not in a way that completely annoys anyone reading the book in the modern times.

Still, I don’t think this is her best book ever. Though I like the unusual plot, the characters aren’t her strongest. Philip and Cleone are both ridiculous, and though transformed!Philip is pretty cool, Cleone doesn’t get any real character development so she’s still ridiculous right up ’til the end. It’s a good thing they’ve got each other, I guess?

Read: January 4, 2014

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