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Venetia (#48 on our Top 100 Romances List)

Georgette Heyer

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on December 03, 2006

When you’re longing to read a book with memorable characters and dialogue that can be light without insulting the reader’s intelligence, Venetia is the perfect read. Of Heyer’s Regencies, this is definitely one of my favorites. Though the tale of the rake falling for the sweet, innocent virgin is no new innovation, this version is one of the best.

Venetia is the daughter of a recluse who has essentially kept her locked away in a small country town. Living in a home where guests were not welcome and denied any opportunity to go to London for the Season, she has been quietly aging her way onto the shelf with few desirable prospects in sight. While she recognizes that marriage is the only way to avoid the unpleasant fate of becoming a hanger-on in her brother’s home, Venetia’s only prospects are a solid (and extremely dull) country gentleman and a smitten young man several years her junior who seems to worship Byron and who casts himself as a romantic in the most ridiculous sense. Though innocent of the world, Venetia is intelligent enough to realize that she must pick a suitor if she is to have a household of her own.

As Venetia resigns herself to her fate, something quite out of the ordinary happens when her scandalous neighbor, Lord Damerel, takes up residence on his estate. Though Venetia has not met Damerel, whispered stories of his debauchery have traveled all around the neighborhood and Venetia is cautioned to avoid all contact with the man. However, she encounters him one day while out on a walk and discovers that while he may be a rake, he is not at all the cold-hearted seducer of local rumor.

To her surprise, Venetia discovers that her neighbor is an intelligent man with a sense of humor. Though she knows the neighbors would be scandalized, she finds that she rather enjoys his company. Venetia and Damerel for the most part conduct themselves as one would expect people of their time to behave. They are often chaperoned and, rakish though he may be, Damerel still treats the innocent Venetia with respect. This is a romance of the mind rather than a steamy, explicit romp.

Even though this book has a sensuality rating of “kisses”, it manages to demonstrate that a couple can have loads of chemistry even if the bedroom door remains firmly closed. Venetia and Damerel’s dialogue is witty and the connection established between them makes their romance sexier in some ways than the most graphic, hot novel. Venetia is obviously bright and Damerel’s reaction to that is something more complicated than mere lust at first sight. The friendship, love, and blatant attraction between this pair instead combines to create tension so deliciously real that it will remain in the reader’s memory long after the book is finished.

Venetia and Damerel’s stations in life present real obstacles to their love and Heyer does a wonderful job of showing how they deal with the problem. She skillfully (and sometimes very humorously) uses her secondary characters to show just how Society would react to a match between an innocent young lady of good reputation and a genuine rake. While Venetia recognizes in Damerel a “well-informed mind, and a great deal of kindness”, the unfortunate truth is that to many his personality is less important than his reputation. And therein lies the problem.

I enjoy Georgette Heyer’s books in general, but I cannot recall a time when I flew through a novel as quickly as I did this one. Those who enjoy Trad Regencies will likely enjoy this one and for those who have never tried Heyer’s books before, this is an excellent place to start. The romance is a sweet one, and the story in general is a true delight.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Lynn Spencer


Grade :     A


Sensuality :      Kisses


Book Type :     


Review Tags :      |


8 Comments

  1. elaine smith November 28, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    This is my absolute, all time (over 50 years!) favourite Regency romance. It is, IMO, Heyer at her very best and I think that Damerel is the epitome of the Regency Rake – simply none better and I adore Venetia herself. Venetia’s younger brother, Aubrey, is also a wonderful character. Simply brilliant and I read it again and again.

  2. Caz Owens
    Caz Owens November 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    This is my favourite Heyer, without question, and remains one of the best Regencies ever written. Damerel is, surely, the blueprint for all those jaded rakes that continue to fill the pages of historical romance – yet few authors have been able to imbue the character-type with such warmth and depth.

  3. Blackjack
    Blackjack November 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    I’ve never read a Heyer book 🙁 This sounds like a good place to start.

    • Keira Soleore
      Keira Soleore November 29, 2017 at 12:23 am - Reply

      Please do read it. I have many, many Heyers in my collection—I love her so. Hope Venetia sparks your love of Heyer.

  4. nblibgirl November 28, 2017 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Hmmm. . . . thought I’d read all of Heyer’s romances but this one is not ringing a bell. Sylvester and Frederica are my two favorites.

  5. Frances November 29, 2017 at 1:00 am - Reply

    At last we have a book in the top 100 that stands the test of time! I read it firstly many many years ago and, like so many of Georgette Heyer’s novels, it is still as good on the umpteenth reread.
    I find it hard to pick a favourite GH because I also love Frederica, Devil’s Cub, Sylvester, etc. With this difficulty in picking a favourite book by a favourite author I wonder if we need to consider a top 100 list where we count votes as being for an author rather than for a book.
    For example if 100 people voted for GH books and of this 100, 40 nominated Venetia, 30 nominated Frederica , 20 nominated Sylvester and the other 10 chose other GH titles I understand that, because several titles by the one author draw votes, the votes aren’t concentrated on one title. Thus Venetia, in our example, may end up further down on the top 100 than GH as an author deserves to be.
    I realise I may have misunderstood how the votes are tallied but I would be interested in a discussion on what is the best book by an author.
    Some authors seem to have one outstanding book but other authors have many. For example, my impression is that we would agree that Devil’s Bride is Stephanie Laurens’ best book but I suspect we would have to discuss Nora Roberts in terms of best trilogy! Sometimes when I look at top 100 lists I wonder why some authors like Carla Kelly who consistently write terrific books don’t rate better.

  6. Lisa Fernandes
    Lisa Fernandes November 29, 2017 at 5:52 am - Reply

    A top ten Heyer for me; a beautifully constructed book!

  7. Amanda
    Amanda December 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    One of my favorites, although I haven’t read it in a looooooong time.

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