Charity Girl

[openbook booknumber=”1402213506″][rating:4/5]

A young and lovely runaway alone on the road to London.
Miss Charity Steane is running away from the drudgery of her aunt’s household to find her grandfather. Not expecting her visit, the old gentleman is not in London but is away in the country.

A scandal broth in the making.
When Viscount Desford encounters a lovely waif searching for her grandfather, he feels honor bound to assist her; but dashing about the countryside together, the Viscount must prevent his exasperating charge from bringing ruin upon herself… and him.

In the end, his best ides is to bring Charity to his lifelong best friend Henrietta, and that’s when the fun and surprises begin…

While this book may start off slow and shaky, by the end Heyer has her footing again and the plot and characters sparkle. In Charity Girl a Viscount named Desford meets a young woman named Charity, “Cherry” for short, hiding away upstairs at a ball. She was foisted off on these relatives by an absent father and is treated more like glorified help then a poor relation in need. Naturally she ends up running away to London in a search for her grandfather. Desford finds her on the road to London and, after hearing her story, decides she would be better off with her grandfather and so gives her a lift. Unfortunately they arrive in London just to discover that her grandfather is out in the country and no one knows where or when he will be back.

Desford said abruptly: “How old are you, my child? Sixteen? Seventeen?”
       “Oh, no, I am much older than that!” she replied. “I’m as old as Lucasta – all but a few weeks!”
       “Then why are you not downstairs dancing with the rest of them?” he demanded. “You must surely be out!”
       “No, I’m not,” she said. “I don’t suppose I ever shall be, either. Unless my papa turns out not to be dead, and comes home to take care of me himself. But I don’t think that at all likely, and even if he did come home it wouldn’t be of the least use, because he seems never to have sixpence to scratch with. I am afraid he is not a very respectable person. My aunt says he was obliged to go abroad on account of being monstrously in debt.” She sighed, and said wistfully: “I know that one ought not to criticize one’s father, but I can’t help feeling that it was just a little thoughtless of him to abandon me.”

Now things look really bad. Desford is now in a position where he has an unattended young girl who has run away in his carriage and no family for her to go to. That’s when he hits upon the idea of taking her to his best friend Henrietta out in the country to have her watch the girl in respectability while he tries to track down her grandfather. That’s when the story really takes off and all sorts of twists and turns follow as Charity settles in caring for Henrietta’s shrewish mother and Desford sets off going from town to town searching for the missing grandfather.

I thought the beginning of this novel started off a little shakily. I guess I’m picky in my romances, I like to know who the couple is that I’m rooting for up front, but that turned out to be impossible as you don’t know for sure until about half way through the book. Once that is cleared up the story picks up nicely from there. There are all of Heyer’s hallmarks, last minute plot twists, snappy and amusing dialog, sparkling female characters, and trouble makers that make your blood boil.

After a beginning that has Charity sparkling about half way through the author suddenly reduces her to a silly chit with more beauty than sense. Along with that she is portrayed as loving, wait for it, regency romance novels. The moment that was revealed was the moment that the plot started to turn and I thought it was half hilarious, half outrageous. Charity chatters on with Henrietta’s mother, and anyone that will listen, about the plot twisty romance novels that she loves to read and makes herself ridiculous by so doing. A writer of regency romance makes fun of a reader of regency romance in a regency romance? I think only Heyer could pull that off. I heard before that she never thought much of the readers that enjoyed her work and after reading scenes like that I do start to wonder!

The book still finishes wonderfully even after all of that. I loved the wit shown by the Desford and Henrietta. I liked the barbs and jokes that were scattered throughout, even the ones pointed squarely at me. But, most of all, I really did like Charity even if she ended up being reduced to a silly girl by the end. I still loved her character from the opening pages. If you don’t mind unexpected pairings and a surprising romance that twists and turns, or being considered a silly wigeon for enjoying such, then you will love Charity Girl.

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